Climate change – why aren’t more of us freaking out?
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To most of us it is undeniable that we are now in an age of potentially irreversible climate change and damage to our planet. Weather patterns are more unpredictable than ever. Species are dying at the fastest ever rate. Wildfires are at their worst for 10,000 years. The number of climate refugees are increasing at their fastest ever rate. Every year more than six times the number of people die in the world due to air pollution than died of Covid in the last year.
So why is climate change such a distant second to Covid in both our own minds and our various governments’ policies? Why aren’t we freaking out more about this?
Various reasons, probably, but I will highlight three here:
1. Years of propaganda from the fossil fuel companies leading us to believe either that climate change is a hoax (Donald Trump) or that it isn’t as bad as scientists lead us to believe. Just as with the tobacco companies from decades ago who knew that their products were killing people, the fossil fuel companies have been well aware of the damage of their products for decades and have spent billions on anti-climate change propaganda in order to maintain their share value. And which incidentally must be believed by our government as they are still subsidising the fossil fuel industry.
2. In this country we don’t see the extremes of climate change, so either we are led to believe it’s not as bad as it could be, or worse that we don’t care because we will be OK. Both views are wrong and narrow-minded. As some of you know, I have been involved in a community in Western Kenya for a decade and have just had to make the painful decision to close the farm I started 10 years ago. The unpredictable weather has made it impossible to farm with either droughts or floods and nothing in the middle. Climate change is real, you better believe it. One proposal for the future to deal with the millions of climate refugees is that countries should take them in proportion to historical emissions levels. It’s fair enough, isn’t it? Maybe that’s when it will hit home in the UK?
3. The western disease of individualism. To think that for years we have been behaving in a way that has been ruining the lives of other communities in the world shows a profound lack of compassion for our fellow human beings. The lack of empathy and care for other people in the world just like us is at best astonishing and at worst downright selfish. I had a moment a few years ago when speaking on a stage when I broke down and cried when showing a slide of homeless Bangladeshi refugees up to their waists in water. A sense that I was partly responsible for this came over me and since then as a company and as an individual I have increased our efforts to do what we can do and reduced our carbon impact by nearly half.
So, please do feel free to freak out about climate change, but then do something about it.