A stark, elo­quent chal­lenge to all

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

‘Right now, we are fac­ing a man-made dis­as­ter of global scale. Our great­est threat in thou­sands of years. Cli­mate change. If we don’t take ac­tion the col­lapse of our civil­i­sa­tions and the ex­tinc­tion of much of the nat­u­ral world is on the hori­zon… Lead­ers of the world, you must lead. The con­tin­u­a­tion of our civil­i­sa­tions and the nat­u­ral world upon which we de­pend, is in your hands.”

David At­ten­bor­ough’s speech to the COP24 cli­mate change con­fer­ence in the Pol­ish city of Ka­tow­ice this week starkly and elo­quently drama­tises the chal­lenge fac­ing hu­man­ity from cli­mate change. It falls to this gen­er­a­tion and its lead­ers to take the nec­es­sary ac­tion to mit­i­gate and re­verse the dam­age al­ready done. We must also find new ways to care for the nat­u­ral world and hu­man­ity’s place in it. Un­less this mes­sage gets through to or­di­nary peo­ple and lead­ers alike we face break­down in our ways of liv­ing, ac­cord­ing to the best sci­en­tific re­search and ad­vice avail­able to this United Nations gath­er­ing and the global process it rep­re­sents.

For progress to be made these threats must be com­mu­ni­cated ac­cu­rately and re­peat­edly to bring them into pop­u­lar con­scious­ness and pre­pare for the rad­i­cal ac­tion re­quired. At­ten­bor­ough spoke on be­half of the pub­lic in Ka­tow­ice as part of an agreed pro­gramme to in­clude civil so­ci­ety in the UN process. He pub­li­cised the new on­line Ac­tNow.Bot urg­ing in­di­vid­ual ac­tion to re­duce our car­bon foot­print, such as tak­ing pub­lic trans­port and eat­ing less meat. Many peo­ple feel over­whelmed and im­mo­bilised by the scale of the chal­lenge. That is why it is so im­por­tant that in­di­vid­ual ac­tion to tackle it be linked to col­lec­tive ac­tion and po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship. It needs a mes­sage of hope and en­able­ment that it can be over­come. We have the tech­nol­ogy and knowl­edge to make that tran­si­tion but lack the po­lit­i­cal will and pub­lic sup­port to take the ac­tion needed.

If that will and sup­port are to be found in­di­vid­u­als and peo­ples must be as­sured the tran­si­tion to a car­bon-free world will be just and fair. Those most vul­ner­a­ble are among the poor­est and most mar­ginal com­mu­ni­ties and states in the world who are least re­spon­si­ble for pro­duc­ing green­house gases. Re­spon­si­bil­ity rests over­whelm­ingly with the rich­est and most priv­i­leged mi­nori­ties in the world – within and be­tween all the states party to the UN cli­mate change process. The re­jec­tion of fuel-price in­creases by the gilets jaunes move­ment in France drama­tises fair­ness in tack­ling this ques­tion and has im­pli­ca­tions through­out the world.

At­ten­bor­ough should be thanked for putting the ex­is­ten­tial chal­lenge fac­ing hu­man­ity so sim­ply and well. We need many more such warn­ings if we are to find the will and re­sources to pre­vent our civil­i­sa­tions col­laps­ing and our nat­u­ral world be­ing de­stroyed by the break­down of our cli­mate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.