Each Generation Must Discover Its Mission: Ours is to Fight Climate Change
Why we need to focus on climate change now
by Tomás Pizarro-Escuti
To speak of immigration, of health and Brexit without considering today’s ecological crisis is like discussing the colour of the curtains when the house is burning. The neoliberal system with its unregulated markets and its culture of exponential growth and production has led to a self-destructive consumerist society. Natural resources are not infinite. This is why neoliberalism is an ideological model that fails to respond to the world’s biggest challenge: to find a system of production, distribution and consumption that is radically different as today. This is our generation’s mission! In other words, if we maintain a culture of exponential growth and neglect sustainability, life on planet Earth will simply not survive.
There are a series of psychological mechanisms that make people refuse to accept the reality of global warming. Especially, when you consider how different an ecological life would be. There would be less travel by plane, less eating meat, and just generally not consuming the way we are used to. Sadly, human-caused climate change is a physical reality. It’s not a belief. It’s not a hoax. It’s not a conspiracy as the US government believes. In fact, it goes without saying that Donald Trump is deeply against science and objective reality itself.
Our grubby fingerprints on the environment are self-evident.
They can be seen in the warming of the oceans, the land surface and the lower atmosphere. They are the cause of the sea level rise, altered rainfall patterns the retreat of Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, and so on.
Climate change is present here and now and to deny it is not only utterly unproductive but is also highly immoral. Wait a minute, is not immorality a too strong word? Are not people supposed to have the right to disagree? Yes, fair point, as long as their arguments are made in good faith. However, there are almost no climate change deniers who act in good faith. Denying science for profit, political advantage or to satisfy their ego is not right.
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world’s leading climate scientists – have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. Before, a threshold of 2C was regarded as the gateway to danger. However, keeping temperature rise to within 1.5C is a significantly safer limit for the world. A half a degree does not sound like much but for the survival of the species, the IPPC argues, “everyone and everything is far better off”.
This means reducing global emissions of CO2 by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and reducing coal use to almost zero and using up to seven million sq km (2.7 million square miles) for land energy crops. Indeed, as the report stated this will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". You might think that you have very little personal involvement with any of these huge changes but that could not be further from the truth. The more we are prepared to make changes to behavioural patterns in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the more we are likely to meet the goal of keeping temperature rise within 1.5C.
We need to awaken an environmental conscience and assume the obligation of living responsibly to improve the quality of life on the planet.
How long have we got? The answer is not long at all. Nonetheless, fighting climate change is not only in the hands of politicians, but you are a key player in this struggle. Together we can achieve this; we only require an incorrigible optimism and a strong conviction in human progress. However, once we lose our optimism, once we lose our hope for a better future, that is when we are fu**ed.