The sun is shining and its tempting to say life is great …but I sit, quietly contemplating the future and I have to say that my mood is finely balanced between optimism and a deep, dark pessimism. For me personally it is also slightly easier to be optimistic – I have no children or grandchildren, so that vested interest in what the future holds has less traction, less horrifying potential.
It is tempting to say we are approaching a climate crisis and an ecological meltdown but that is again delaying it. The harsh reality is that we are already there, climate change is happening, the health of the planet is already in dire straights and yet there is still a collective sense of disbelief and an arrogant and often ignorant denial of science and fact. This attitude is everywhere from us as individuals up to governments and business. There have been token agreements and declarations of a Climate Emergency and yet there are no flashing lights, sirens, public-broadcasts to the nation or clear leadership. Some world leaders and intelligent people even still claim that climate change is either not happening or is not linked to human activity. I tend to go with the 98% of scientists who say it is. (If you don’t believe those scientists then maybe next time you have a health problem don’t go to see a doctor, don’t partake of peer reviewed health care. Go with a 2% option).
This last year has seen heroic work by Greta Thumberg (the Swedish teenage activist who went on strike outside her parliament over Climate Change) and also by groups such as XR Extinction Rebellion trying to trigger the level of change needed. But it’s easy to live in a bubble. Even a month ago this was brought home to me when I had a conversation with a consultant doctor with three children who didn’t know who she was or what she was saying.
I’ve worked in this sector for 30 years and absorbed a lot of information around sustainability. Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells is a recent read that clarifies the current dilemma. It’s a harsh read but sets out where we are going without drastic action. In summary its death and mass extinction via a number of routes including, heat, air pollution, drowning, wildfires, famine, lack of freshwater for basic life, mass migration triggered by all of the above all in turn leading to economic and societal breakdown and wars between the have’s and the have not’s fighting over ever shrinking resources such as inhabitable land and food and water.
Oh my goodness!
But we do still have time…just. We need to change our whole ways of life, consuming less, treasuring and valuing what we have and what we do consume and believing in each other in a common world with common shared solutions. I usually finish my talks with a rallying call. That call needs to be heard loud and clear:
We need to WAKE UP and change NOW!
Written by Chris Hines MBE Hon.D.SC. A Grain of Sand.
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