Climate Change: The Almighty Elephant In The Deeply Fragile Room

On May 16, 2015 by Lonesome George


Global warming: virtually everyone accepts it is happening and that it will inevitably result in dire consequences for humanity and other life on this planet. Most people accept the overwhelming weight of evidence that human activity, particularly carbon pollution, is the main reason it is happening so quickly. The ice caps will continue to melt and cause rising global sea levels; extreme weather, including prolonged heatwaves and flooding, will be more frequent; fresh water sources will become even more scarce; a vast array of interconnected and complex ecosystems will be profoundly affected in ways we can’t yet understand; disease will spread; wars will inevitably come as population increase meets a dwindling of natural resources. Yet, bizarrely, our species just carries on merrily pumping carbon dioxide into the air in astonishingly high volumes.

Every now and then we hear about a disaster caused by extreme weather where global warming may or not have played a factor or perhaps we read about another failed international climate change summit and at those times most us probably force ourselves to think about how important it all is. We know it matters deeply yet for some reason it doesn’t galvanise us.

A group of expatriates stand along the Bund as they distribute face masks to pedestrians to raise awareness of air pollution in downtown Shanghai

We’ve just had a general election in the UK and the environment was barely mentioned during the campaign, even by the Green party who do recognise the desperate urgency and indeed hold the need to tackle climate change at the heart of their very existence; and to a large extent I don’t blame any of the political parties. The sobering fact is that the subject of the environment is not a vote winner. Putting it bluntly, people don’t care. Or at least not enough people care enough for it to affect who they vote for.

Global Warming Discussion - Texas Lake

We can and no doubt should as individuals try to do our bit by recycling rubbish and saving energy, but profound change will only come through a change in collective international government policy that genuinely promotes a reduction in the carbon emissions within big industry. That change in policy will not come until the people of the world make it an accountable priority for our governments.

The businesses, who cause the majority of pollution, do not care about the environment. They care about making money and everything else is a means to that end. The situation will change only when it becomes possible and necessary for businesses to stop polluting in order to make money. This will only happen when there is a greater financial pay off for using renewable energy than for using carbon producing fossil fuels; and this will only happen when there is sufficient determined financial investment to make the technological breakthroughs to allow renewable energies to become profitable.

Global Warming Discussion - China Fog

The good news is that humanity has an undeniable gift for achieving the impossible. We have discovered how to harness energy on a mass scale for our own purposes; we’ve learnt how to fly; we’ve been to the moon; we have created the miracle of antibiotics; we have invented a cyber reality to facilitate instant global communication; we have even mastered genetics far enough to recreate life itself. The challenge of producing a financially viable, sustainable renewable energy is just another chapter in the endless list of impossible achievements of humanity. It can and will be done. It is just a question of when, and how much damage will we need to witness to get us to that point.

Global Warming Discussion

I am not preaching or judging. I will hold my hands up and admit that I do not think about climate change or prioritise it as much as I should. But when I do think about it, I feel severe unease at how we can see this happening but when it comes down to it, we aren’t pushing for change. I do feel a burden of responsibility for the generations to come over the next decades, centuries and millenia. I am desperately trying to resist the fatalistic urges that tell me I can’t make any difference. The catalyst for change has to come from people. People have the collective power to push this up the international political agenda and make it in everyone’s interests to find the solutions required. I am going to try to play my very small part in that.

It is the spectacular wonder of life that makes this such a beautiful and special planet. This is the elephant we can’t keep ignoring.






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