It’s World Environment Day – twenty years since the Rio Convention where, in 1992, it looked as if global governance might have been able to save the environment. Since then, the slip-slide of global democracy has failed to make any headway on Climate Change – and here we are, twenty years later with time running out, questioning whether the ideal of democracy should be officially autopsied. What went wrong, and when, that stopped us from being able to save our planet? Our race? To fulfill our promises of a better life, of absolute rights for everyone?
And yet, environmentalists are still fighting, and scientists are still estimating that we might have the minutest bit of time left to make a difference. Climate Change is happening but, hopefully, we can still avoid the worst-case scenarios. Could there be anything more important to be fighting for than action to save our environment? For those who think other issues might be more important, think again. The worst predictions about Climate Change talk about the extinction of our race, or mass extinction like that of the Permian age where over 95% of life suffered the ‘great dying’. Studying Climate Change day after day has become more like reading science fiction than reading about reality – yet here is our new possible future: a planet where ‘dome worlds’ with artificial environments are postulated as real answers to our problems. If you’re concerned about poverty or human rights and think that these issues might be more important, look at it this way – Climate Change can only make these matters worse, not better. Who are the people who get to live in the ‘dome worlds’ and who are the people left to starve outside, fighting over the depleted resources left to them? What kind of martial state will have to exist within the ‘dome worlds’ to ration the limited resources and keep the peace among humans suddenly crowded into a small and unnatural state? What kind of liberties will those people have, what kind of human rights? And those people will be the ‘lucky’ ones…
How far down the line is this? For those of you convincing yourself that this is a long way off, or that the things we do now won’t really have much of an effect – think again. Some scientists have started to predict that we will reach 4 degrees by 2050. If this doesn’t sound serious, Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre puts forth a good analogy comparing the atmospheric rise in temperature being caused by Climate Change with a person’s core body temperature. ‘Your temperature rises by 2 degrees and you have a fever’ he says ‘it rises by 4 degrees and you’re dead.’ The truth is that a lot of people will be dead when we reach 4 degrees warming, and it’s not a long way off. As for the things we do now not making any difference in the future – CO2 burnt now has the potential to still be causing global warming in 200 – 1,000 years time. Everything we do is having a lasting effect – and therein lies the problem – most of us think of our actions as being fairly insignificant, but in reality our combined effects on the world are bringing about a catastrophic event that will be the most tragic and devastating thing to happen in the history of the human race – and possibly the history of the planet. This is something we need global action on, immediately. This is a call to action. We need a mass social movement of people clamoring that this has to stop, a movement of people trying to change their lifestyles – sending out the message that we no longer want the fossil fuel industry to dictate our lifestyles, to dictate our politics and to be sending us into oblivion. That we want change, and not to be the last generation that could have done something but instead walked the human race into an apocalyptic future.
If you’re reading this and you want to do something, start making a change – and start letting people know that you are making a change. We have to spread the word and learn to live within our means, to be sustainable, to limit our footprint on the world. And if you start making connections you will find plenty of passionate people out there to link up with who will support you and help you realise that you are part of a social movement struggling to come out on top. We can make our voices heard, but we need strength in numbers. This is a battle that needs to be fought, on all fronts, by all people.