Why We Need an Eco-Revolution
Spending New Year’s Eve in Preston with my best friend, I jokingly told her the world might end soon, referring to the film 2012. I then spent a long time trying to reassure her that the film had no factual basis, however I couldn’t promise that much hope. In 2011 there has been no good news to speak of regarding climate change, with very worrying developments taking low priority in the news, giving a bleak picture ahead of us. Here I want to briefly outline some of the major reports and changes that have happened in 2011 regarding climate change. I do not, however, want to finish on a bleak note: humanity has the capability to reverse this, but it would require action on a large scale.
In November,“the world’s foremost authority on energy economics”, the International Energy Agency (IEA), reported that if the current trend for warming continues over the next 5 years there will be no room for reversing the damage and we will face a ‘lock-in’ effect – runaway climate change which is irreversible. Also, at the beginning of December, researchers with the Global Carbon Project said that 2010 saw the record amount of carbon emitted into the ozone – 49% higher than in 1990.
One thing to take from these statistics – apart from a serious acknowledgment of the severity of the problem – is that if we act quickly we can do something to change this, as the IEA said, we do have a short amount of time to reverse this. So are the leaders of our countries paying attention? Two main events for me this year say no, the first being the result of the 2011 Durban climate talks. What these agreements eventually led to was an agreement for the participatory governments to spend four years negotiating how far and how fast each country should cut their carbon emissions. That’s right, after the serious, catastrophic news we have received about climate change and the speed with which we need to react, these people decide to wait it out and talk for a bit longer. The second event that clarified for me that the ruling classes have no desire to do anything was in December when Canada (the highest per capita emitters on the planet in 2009) decided to withdraw from Kyoto protocol stating that it “does not represent a way forward for Canada”. Now although Kyoto is not satisfactory it is incredibly worrying and significant that a country like Canada would so easily pull out.
It now seems like we are on a knife edge and can go either way, and that, at this point, it would take something radical to keep us from falling. I don’t feel this is over dramatic or scaremongering: its realistic. The people in power right now have shown no inclination in the face of evidence to act and save our planet and humanity and yet what has driven us to this point? Was it the people suffering from the results of oil spills in the Niger Delta or was it the global oil giant Shell? Was it the indigenous people of the Cerrado or the politicians who are letting it be cleared? It seems clear that until this inequality and exploitation of resources ends then we cannot control climate change or live fairly.
After the failure of yet another climate summit, it is clear that the ruling classes are unwilling to act and has little incentive to do so. They know themselves that they can’t live in an unequal society and take serious action on the climate – but they are on the rich side so why bother?
It is in our hands to act, the future may look bleak but if 2011 has showed us anything is that people power can change things – look to the revolutions across north Africa and the Occupy movement for two well known examples but also to indigenous people across the globe who refused to let big business destroy the land they live on and succeeded. We cannot agonise, we need to organise!
Image credit: arcticcircleregion