Time to Grow Up

On Moving Planet Day last week, James Hansen made a speech in which he said that if we continue with business as usual (BAU) the Southern US would become almost uninhabitable, (as would the Mediterranean). This year the US has had a taste of what is in store for them, and yet the media, according to Hansen have studiously avoided connecting the extreme weather they’ve been experiencing with global warming. It really has been mind-boggling to see the strength of people’s denial of what is staring them in the face. This is painful to watch in the US, but it’s happening everywhere. Here in HK I cannot remember anyone other than one or two people associated with the TSL group, who have brought up the subject of global warming in any conversation with me. When I mention it, people listen politely but say absolutely nothing that develops the discussion beyond what I’m saying, although I’ve had one or two comments along the lines of ‘but it’s still a debatable issue, isn’t it?’ No, it isn’t! Why is it that people are so indifferent to something which is likely to devastate the lives of their own children? Why is it that when scientists make it clear that the remainder of this century will see massive climate chaos in the form of major droughts and floods, more frequent and more intense storms, severe disruption of farming patterns such that crops will fail bringing starvation to millions, rising sea levels which will drive millions of people to flee the coastal areas and become refugees, why is it that people choose to ignore this and carry on with their lives as if everything was hunky dory? This, to me, is criminal. There is absolutely no excuse for it whatsoever. Every last one of us should be doing whatever we can to reduce the possibility of these disasters becoming inevitable. We have been told time and time again that we have only the slimmest of chances of avoiding losing control of the situation, but it means we must stop doing what we’re doing, and start living differently. We’ve got to get off of fossil fuels. Everybody should be discussing this and trying to work out what the hell we can do individually, as a community, and nationally and internationally. But what do you hear people discussing? As often as not, what I hear is people talking about where they are flying off to next, or where they’re going to send their child on some school trip abroad. There is, of course, no mention of how damaging this is in terms of personal carbon emissions. If there’s anything we can do as individuals, it is to cut out unnecessary flights, get rid of, or radically reduce our use of, cars, change our eating habits so we eat locally and organically, and cut right down on meat. These actions can make a major difference to our carbon emissions. Ultimately, we can eschew consumerism, and buy as little of anything as we can.

In the meantime, let’s start talking about the worst crisis that the human race has ever faced, and let’s start putting solutions into place. Isn’t it time we started acting like adults instead of pretending the problem doesn’t exist if you just avert your eyes. How childish can we get?


About transitionsl

I've been an English teacher for the best part of 30 years, teaching in England, Tanzania, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong. I've always been interested in nature and environmental issues, but it was the discovery of Peak Oil about five years ago that galvanised me into trying to help my local community to prepare for what will be a dramatically different world to the one many of us have been used to. I've been helping to run a transition group, following the guidelines created by Rob Hopkins's Transition Movement in the UK. This blog is an attempt to engage in discussion with a wider group of people in Hong Kong on the ways to transition from our current oil dependency to a state of fossil-free local resilience.
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