It was perplexing but perhaps unsurprising that, when the reports came out, there was coverage and discussion about the changes that were needed to be introduced, but they swiftly became yesterday’s news as attention turned back to Brexit and Trump, politics and personalities, even while, in reinforcement of the scientists’ message, flash floods killed 10 people in Majorca and the most violent storm in decades lashed Florida. The greatest global crisis imaginable is confronting us, but our leaders are choosing a “business as usual” approach over taking action.
I am biased in my love for the Planet and my fervent wish for her well-being, so I would like to see world leaders meeting within days to determine what to do to save her. I would like to see Cobra meeting in urgent session today to define a UK strategy of change, and the EU co-ordinating efforts to encourage and require best practice at every level and in every sector necessary, and I would like to see similar activity of encouragement and enforcement everywhere in the world. It is not happening.
In World War II, all attention was focused on fighting and winning the war, and everyone was involved. The effort began straightaway and the lives of all citizens changed, in the UK even down to turning flower gardens into vegetable beds, and melting down iron railings for weapons. My grandmother’s handwritten recipe book for the war years includes arrowroot pie and potato scones, but no meat nor sugar. Life was hard, but few people grumbled because there was a war on, and sacrifices had to be made.
There is a new war now, and it is a war against ourselves. The two sides at war are the men and women who deny or ignore the inconvenient truth about an imminent disaster caused by human profligacy, and the people who are passionate about reversing the causes of man-made climate change as far and as fast as we can, and who are prepared to alter their lives to help achieve it. There are some wonderful planetary warriors out there.
Some people have said that there is no point in changing our lives unilaterally, or for a country to fight for the Planet alone, arguing that it must be an international army working together at the level of all nations and all leadership to achieve any good. This is not true, being both a misunderstanding and an excuse for inaction; we each of us has a personal responsibility for the well being of our planetary home and our environment, and if we wait for our neighbour or our leader, nothing will be done. Leadership comes from within, and change comes from purpose and good intent.
We have been told what needs to be done to save the Planet. Governments must reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels and legislate to change how we drive and travel, but we can help too by living more simply, and with more awareness. We can eat less, and better, reducing our consumption of meat and dairy products, and we can buy fewer clothes; we can change our phones less often and go on fewer overseas holidays; we can insulate our homes and turn the lights off sometimes; we can walk more, and reduce our use of chemicals and plastics.
If every individual did just half of these suggestions, the world would be a better place. There is still time to save the Planet. Remember, governments can be shamed into action: let us lead our leaders, by our example.