At a party on a beautifully balmy night in Ibiza, after learning I was an environmentalist, a stranger threw unsubstantiated and factually incorrect climate change denial nonsense at me for about twenty minutes. About an hour later this same stranger apologised for his behaviour. “Being an environmentalist you must have been very upset by my outburst” he explained. “Not at all” I replied in friendly party mode. “Why would I be upset? I’ll be gone when it gets really bad and I don’t have any children. Do you?” By the shock on his face I guess he had.
Great Al Jazeera "Earthrise" 20 minute episode on the Paris Climate Change talks starting today.
I’m not one for scare tactics, they often backfire, but decades after we learned we were causing climate change, most people are simply bored or confused by the subject. Not unlike the refugee crisis this summer, it’s as if it was too big for our compassion. Until one small tragic victim of drowning washed up on a Greek beach.
Soon after the Ibiza party I considered setting up a website to publish climate change denial pseudo nonsense against peer reviewed science to counter lazy deniers. I was going to call it letskillthekids.com. I never followed this up but maybe using language like “kill” and “kids” was a good idea after all. Seeing if it was still available I was offered this domain today for £1.99 and even given an alternative helpful suggestion of letskillthebabies.com!
When I first started talking to the public about environmental issues I was regularly told “My 8 year old is learning about these issues and he/she’s really interested. I think it’s really important kids are educated about our environment.” That was forty years ago. It seems every generation is really pleased their kids are learning, yet take little responsibility themselves. Well it’s finally too late to wait for kids to grow into responsible adults – this one’s on us.
Many parts of the world are already suffering from extreme weather conditions; drought, floods and cyclones, much worse than experienced before. As the world meets in Paris today seeking to limit the damage to a 2°C increase, forty four island states are fighting to reduce this goal to 1.5°C or their countries will be very severely threatened. Some will disappear. At the moment it looks unlikely we’ll even make the 2°C target.
At 2 degrees 70% of coral reefs will suffer long term degradation - home to 25% marine species © Dave Currey
I don’t believe our governments are fit for purpose. Too many are already bought by fossil fuel interests, billionaires and our democratic systems work on too short a cycle for self-served politicians to see any personal advantage in action. My optimistic nature recognises the growing movement of world citizens marching, signing petitions and caring for each other.
But let’s get real. In the UK the recent elections hardly touched on climate change and the conservative government has already cut renewable subsidies, savaged the green investment bank and abandoned zero-carbon new homes by 2016. In the USA the line-up of Republican Presidential candidates is appallingly badly informed. Some are even climate change deniers and spew out utter nonsense in interviews, presumably to a receptive audience.
What can we do? Well I do believe as citizens we can garner power in numbers. So first we should tell our 8 year olds we’re not leaving it to them and are actually going to act. Join groups, write to elected representatives and yes, protest at inaction. One wonderfully easy way for many is to switch your electricity accounts to one that supplies renewable energy. That way, you deprive the dirty energy companies of funds.
If you have an 8 year old, when he/she is 23 it seems likely that 70% of the world’s coral reefs will suffer from long-term degradation, home to 25% marine species. These reefs are vital nurseries for the fishing industry and provide critical coastal protection. That’s some of the damage to our planet already in line even if our politicians act now to limit warming to 2°C.
Don't leave it to someone else - learn and act now because for some it is already too late.