Recently, The UK’s Committee for Climate Change (CCC) issued a report painting a stark picture of the increased risks of wildfires, floods, storms, landslides and droughts becoming increasingly common.
The impact, even in a northern European country like the UK, could be devastating, with disruption of food supplies, risks to crops and livestock, damage to soil and water health as well as wildlife habitats with further risks to human health through increased exposure to heat.
It sounds severe, it sounds worrying, it sounds dangerous. It is dangerous!
It is probably already too late to keep temperature increases in the UK below the 1.5O C increase agreed by world leaders. As Baroness Brown, Chair of the CCC’s adaption committee pointed out:
‘We really do need to see a recognition that the climate in the UK is changing significantly and will go on changing significantly to 2050.’
So, while a government spokesman said:
‘We welcome this report and will consider its recommendations closely.’
Chris Stark of the CCC said,
‘We don’t see realistic plans to tackle the kind of risks we have at the moment.’
Green MP Caroline Lucas said:
‘This is a devastating report, laying out in forensic detail the cost of successive governments’ failure to take action’.
And Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth added:
‘The government’s response to the climate emergency is totally inadequate.’
The UK isn’t unique in its feeble response to a problem but that’s no excuse. Many countries around the world are already being massively damaged by climate change. But the warning signs have been there for generations and the dangers have been well known. It’s like the smoking issue. It was known for decades about the dangers of smoking yet the information was suppressed and not given the prominence it deserved. With the dangers of climate change the information was also there and it shouldn’t have taken a Swedish schoolgirl going on strike to raise international awareness, demand action and describe the problem so succinctly!
‘I want you to act as if your house is on fire, because it is.’
(Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum, Davos, 24 January 2019)
Yes, our house is on fire and the world must act to save itself. If the task seems too overwhelming, too international, too large then consider Greta’s warning,
‘The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.’
(Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Summit, New York, 23 September 2019)
Even better, read her family’s book: Our House is on Fire.
Unless politicians across the world take action to put the future long-term health of the planet first, then not only will borders and boundaries not matter much but their own grandchildren will never forgive them.
Individually this also means demanding more immediate action from our politicians as well as taking personal responsibility for our own actions. The former requires being politically active. The latter requires everyone to change our lifestyles in regard to travel, food consumption and what and how we purchase things.
As a friend of mine, who is a headmaster in Ghana, says:
‘We can all make small steps, and many small steps become a stride.’
But, can direct, individual action and small steps change things? Greta Thunberg is in no doubt, as she told the UK Parliament on 23 April 2019:
‘The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything.’
Just a few days later, the UK officially declared a climate change emergency.
As well as political parties, there are many agencies and organizations who can help and advise on how all individuals can make a difference. These include:
- The Centre for Alternative Technology,
- World Wildlife Fund
- One Tree Planted and
- Friends of the Earth.
So let’s start making those small steps!