There are many more climate change deniers out there than I originally thought. It’s just too hard to acknowledge the implications of climate change. As Naomi Kline suggests:
We look for a split second and then we look away. Or we look but then turn it into a joke (“more signs of the Apocalypse!”). Which is another way of looking away. Or we look but tell ourselves comforting stories about how humans are clever and will come up with a technological miracle that will safely suck the carbon out of the skies or magically turn down the heat of the sun. Which, I was to discover while researching this book, is yet another way of looking away.
If we continue to deny climate change our future looks bleak. Again to quote Klein:
We know that if we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, climate change will change everything about our world… And we don’t have to do anything to bring about this future… All we have to do is not react as if this is a full-blown crisis. All we have to do is keep on denying how frightened we actually are. And then, bit by bit, we will have arrived at the place we most fear, the thing from which we have been averting our eyes.
Paul Gilding argues that this is the year the dam of denial will break and that economic pressures are going to lead to dramatic action to address climate change. If he is right, we will still have to see whether it will be too little, too late. But action on climate change is not enough because climate change is not the only environmental challenge we face. The over use of resources, living as if there are no limits to growth, soil and water degradation, and loss of biodiversity (to name a few) also need to be addressed. They challenge our economic system, our global priorities and our lifestyles. We cannot keep going as if things will work themselves out.
Individual actions alone will not be enough; we need strong leadership, overwhelming community support, political will and determination, and creativity if we are to forge a new way of living. We have seen concerted opposition to many attempts to address climate change and environmental sustainability, and we can expect to see many more from corporations and individuals who stand to lose in the short-term.
It won’t be easy. It will take strong legislation, economic reform, painful decisions and social action. Ultimately, unless we want our children to pay for our inaction, we have not choice. We have to act decisively and we need to act now.
We cannot rely on a PLANet B. As the Blue Men say, ““Please take a moment to locate this planet’s emergency exits. As you can see, there aren’t any.”
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