New terms and conditions

If I had been trying to inform you of some big debates in the environmental movement as recently as five years ago, I might have started with the classic “Is climate change really going to happen?” To which I would of course have replied most certainly yes! Five years on however, and that debate has been forced to the recesses of our minds and out of circulation. This is for a number of reasons; a) the Esso-funded climate change deniers have dwindled, and have been engulfed in the sea of scientist saying IT’S FOR REAL! b) there are indicators across the planet that have really proven its existence, and not just in the future but right here, right now. c) widespread understanding has finally spread throughout the world, not nessecarily on an environmental level but on several levels you may not even know exist. For example, the increase in temperatures in already hot places such as Africa and Asia has led to scientists saying that a third of Asia and fifth of Africa, including land that is currently being farmed, is in danger of desertification. That’s a large area of land, covered by a large amount of people. So climate change becomes a human rights issue. To quote George Marshall, (not word for word), when he typed in ‘climate change’ into the search engine of various human rights organisations’ websites, the hits were low maybe 2-10, per website; when he typed in a random, seemingly unconnected to human rights word, in this case ‘ice cream’, the hits were as much as 27! This was no more than two years ago, and by now you will find that climate change is almost equally important alongside human rights in their work, ‘ice cream’ now only generates about 12 results on Amnesty! Lastly, d) on a small scale, people are hoping that awareness of the consequencesof our unsustainable actions, will lead to a more sustainable way of living-which is healthier, better for the planet, more satisfying, and frankly efficient use of resources is plain logical whether climate change exists or not.

Indeed the debate has moved on, quite significantly so too, the latest question amongst Scientists and the like is “mitigation Vs adaptation?” Mitigation is prevention (so how do we stop or slow down climate change?), and adaptation is adapting our lives and communities to be able to deal with the consequences of a changing climate. It’s a valid and scary question, especially in light of the fact that we are experiencing its effects already, so we are too late to stop it before it starts: it already has started. Also, despite constant pressure and lobbying, Governments across the world are STILL putting economy and business deals before the very planet the deals are taking place on! Duh! It’s like going fishing in a blow up dinghy, getting your hook stuck in the material and causing a puncture so it starts to deflate, but you keep on fishing because you HAVE TO CATCH THAT FISH! Oblivious of the fact that you wont be able to take that fish home and eat it without a working dinghy. Instead you have to swim for your life. Basically environmentalists aren’t holding their breath for the required cuts in emissions that leaders need to make globally, anytime soon.

So far the scientists are divided on this question. Even representatives of CAT aren’t sure what to think. So where does that leave me?! Well in my opinion it’s not a case of all or nothing. We need to keep promoting sustainability at all levels just in case there is even the smallest-tiny-weeny-piddly chance of slowing it down. In the meantime the Government should also be planning and starting to equip the most vulnerable communities (first) with what they need to adapt and prepare. And even when we reach the adaptation stage in full, and on a large scale, we should not forget about sustainability, because without it we could accelerate the processes of a changing climate even more. Government should also remember that now is the time to pilot possible projects for adaptation, while it isn’t crucial to lives in this country. Now is the time to make mistakes and put them right for when it really matters.

To me it’s common sense to have some kind of contingency plan for the worst case scenario. (That isn’t a gun or cyanide!) I would not want to be the Prime Minster caught short with only the long term plans for a nuclear renaissance and a quote for decorating No.10 in my back pocket that’s for sure.


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