No generation before us has been faced with the challenges we now face, but reversing climate change can be achieved. We have the innovative and sharing skills to do it.
The ‘sharing’ is the key. International coming-together is the sole viable solution; the people of the earth must act as a tribe. The only way this can be achieved is the making aware of every individual on earth of the emergency we face.
We are survivors of ice ages, floods, and droughts. The survival instinct is strongest of all our imprinted impulses, second only to procreation. To survive, we must unite globally.
Not when we are on the precipice, but now. In an address to the UN in March 2018, the Secretary General warned that we have little more than a decade to achieve this but that it can be done if all the 196 countries of the world — 193 are UN members — act together, the richer financing the poorer if needs be.
We live and learn. The more we learn, the better can we act individually and communally for the salvation of the people, places and ways of life that we love. The planets supports 8m invertebrates, 90,000 vertebrates, and one human species.
Belatedly, we realise that we are part of the web of life, that the world is finite, and that, through the layers of time, we have become its enemy.
Since the Industrial Revolution, more than two centuries ago, headlong material progress, plus recent farming practices, have blinded us to the consequences for nature and the environment. We have taken our eye off the ball; we have been shooting ourselves in the foot.
But we can now stop it. We have the science, the equipment, and the skills. It is in our nature to form tribes, but these tribes competed and brought wars.
To create an international tribe based on individual awareness of the danger we face to the survival of our crops, fields, families is the priority now. We must, all and every one of us, progress this awareness on our own patch.
Individually, we can take action. Unified locally, we can expel those community leaders who are in denial, those who would conserve the old mantra of progress at any cost, those who have stakes in the present commercial order. Individually, we can reject Big Oil – Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon, Saudi Aramco – by turning to alternative energy, by avoiding petroleum products in every way we can.
The nexus of life on Earth is resilient, but if the foundation cracks, the whole edifice will quickly topple. Plants at the base of the food chain, and the insect pollinators of crops worldwide, will not adapt to the soaring temperatures.
Ice caps will melt, islands will be submerged, and coastal cities will drown. Ocean currents will change course, bringing inverted climates with which local vegetation and insects cannot cope.
Last Monday, sharing of effort internationally was an underlying theme at the Our Oceans Wealth Summit in Cork where John Kerry, the former US Secretary of State — a major force in securing the 2016 Paris Agreement reducing greenhouse gas emissions — was a key speaker.
He expressed belief that united international effort can save our world.
“Tthe enemy is man-made,” he said.
Earlier, I had heard Peter Thompson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, on Pat Kenny’s programme on Newstalk. The oceans, he said, are “in deep trouble”. Pollution, over-fishing, acidification, ocean warming, and oxygen depletion are killing the food chain essential for marine life.
Mr Thompson hails from Fiji, a nation surrounded by sea. He saw hope for his grandchildren, noting that mankind has always had two strengths, sharing and innovation.
“My faith,” he said “is that we will bring our very best innovation and our very best sharing abilities into play and I believe this is what will happen during the 10 to 12 years we’ve got ahead of us in which we’ve got to totally change the way we relate to our planet.”
A UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019 will bring this issue to the top of the international agenda. It cannot be too soon.
My faith is that our future can be safeguarded if global awareness, via media, can unite everyone everywhere in the effort to make the lifestyle changes that will save us. It can be a joyous enterprise, a historical unification of mankind. Together, we can overcome.