It started as a feeling in the pit of my stomach, progressed into a sleepless night and now I just can’t stop thinking about it. This frustration is simmering into a boiling rage.
I have an ever-growing anger with the seeming indifference towards global warming — especially the lack of concerted efforts by governments the world over to tackle the problem in a significant way. The lethargy of our action as a planet will have an impact not just now, but forever.
At the recent COP21 summit in Paris, we saw for the first time a global agreement to cut carbon emissions - progress, a step in the right direction, or so I thought. Since the announcement the UK government has cut subsidies to renewable energy schemes by 65% all the while increasing its funding of fossil fuels. The Green Sky project, which would have converted 575,000 tonnes of household waste a year into aviation biofuel has been recently scrapped. The CO2 emission reductions that would have been made possible through this scheme would have equated to taking 150,000 cars off the road, in addition to dealing with the waste which is now destined for landfill.
I just can’t reconcile how this happens. It doesn’t make sense.
With an increasing global population and an age of technology that relies on power consumption, our demand for energy is swelling. The fossil fuel resources are decreasing and are getting more difficult and expensive to extract. From an economic perspective alone — ignoring the environmental impact — wouldn’t investment and a swift transition to renewable energy be the logical thing to do?
We are outraged when a few nut jobs kill 130 people in Paris. Governments respond by increasing military action in Syria. Entire cities go into lockdown. But what will we do when an entire country is swallowed up by the ocean, to whom do we apportion the blame?
Without making the tragic terror events that occurred in Paris last year trivial, a report commissioned by the mayor of London found 9,500 died prematurely in 2010 due to air pollution in the capital. That figure rises to 30,000 across the UK. 30,000 — and that was six years ago. The figure now is expected to be closer to 60,000.
Forget terrorism, immigration, or the state of the economy, this will affect the entire planet, forever — the football scores, fashion trends and Kim Kardashian’s ass will all become irrelevant when the planet is uninhabitable. The extreme weather conditions, unseasonal storms, flooding, drought will only continue to get worse. The longer we take to act, the more pronounced and the more frequent they will become. The people who will suffer most are those least able to do anything about it. The damage is irreversible. But you know all this — we all do, it’s a tired old rhetoric now.
The problem is the threat is not yet imminent enough for the majority of the world to see the consequences, if it’s not staring us right in the face it is too easy to look away. It’s only when it is too late that we will try and respond. And there will be no one to bomb. No one for the media to feed on. Only ourselves, each and everyone of us who could have done more.
I’m not going to call it a resolution, because I have a habit of not sticking to them — but this year I am going to see what difference I can make to improving the environment and fighting climate change.
Climate change is of course a complicated beast, with numerous causes and a multitude of effects. It makes sense to tackle the biggest problem first, energy supply.
In 2012, the top 10 GHG emitters accounted for more than two thirds of the global emissions total. Find the newest data…goo.gl
My goal this year is to challenge myself to make conscious changes to the way I do things which will impact the environment. My approach is two pronged — what simple, sustainable (and realistic) changes can I make to my own lifestyle to tackle climate change at a personal level? I’m not going to chain myself to a tree or start living in a forest, but I will seek out ways to reduce my own carbon footprint. Secondly, I want to discover what role I can play in the larger movement to fight the corporate greed which is driving climate change.
Can I educate myself further and perhaps a few other people along the way to make similar changes?
So to start with I have just signed up to 350. This is a global movement started by Bill McKibbon to help fight the impact of climate change, with the following major goals:
- Keep carbon in the ground
- Help build a new, more equitable low-carbon economy
- Pressure governments into limiting emissions
I discovered 350 after reading this article by Naomi Klein in the Guardian, it’s essentially an extract from her book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate and it lays out quite clearly why we are so slow to react to this threat. Her argument most recently proven by the VW emissions scandal.
Although facing a powerful and wealthy carbon industry lobby, in many democratic societies, power is still in the hands of the people. We can influence corporations through our purchase decisions, divestment and boycotts. If we create enough awareness, make enough noise, elevate the issue to election making/breaking levels — it will affect government policy.
Perhaps this anger I am feeling is a good thing. Perhaps it is the only thing that will spur me into action. If we all get angry maybe we will do something that can make a difference… before it is too late.