What will it take to save the planet?
Change in the narrative, change in the blame, and change in our actions.
I’ve watched the News over the last few weeks, reporting on COP26 (Conference of the Parties for those countries who signed up to the 1994 treaty UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and their discussion on Climate Change. I’ve heard them say they’ll stop cutting down the rainforest in a decade, they’ll introduce some more electric cars, oh, yes, they’ll try to stop cows from farting, ie, reduce methane. I also heard they might try and get rid of coal, but I’m pretty sure we’re opening a new coal field in Cumbria soon, so that’ll go well. We’re still waiting to see if our Leaders can come up with big agreements and remain accountable, but forgive us our scepticism. Most steps our governments make are small, and it’s almost always the public who are expected to change rather than the government or industry.
It’s the big things that matter. We’re already doing the small things. We can all do our bit – walk more, buy local, put out blue bags, and recycle. We hope our local council is actually recycling it. It’s been shocking to discover many Local Authorities pack up their recycled plastic, and send it to third world countries for processing, except that those countries lack the infrastructure to cope, and it just creates massive, problematic, mountains of waste in another part of the world.
Local Authorities, governments, and industry need to take big steps and take accountability. Money needs to be taken out of fossil fuels and plastic and put into solar, water, and wind. I mean, fossil fuels are literally running out, and we have more sun, ocean, and wind on our literal doorstep. But the general public can’t do this. It has to come from government and big business. Industry and Law has to change. We can recycle our plastic drinks bottle, but maybe the drinks company should be producing a more ecological bottle or packaging. We can try to buy food without plastic, but if our supermarkets and their suppliers don’t stop over using it, we have much less choice. We can only work with what they give us.
We, and governments etc, need to listen to activists and scientists. Activists will keep Climate Change on our radar, they will keep us aware, and scientists will move us forward with statistics, information, time scales, and directions on what we need to do to protect the planet. The older generation seems to listen to Sir David Attenborough, and he is God tier – to be protected at all costs, but they don’t like being told what to do by the younger generation. Greta Thunberg, Patience Nabukala, Brianna Fruean, and others repeat the words of warning at COP26 for climate change, and are fully backed up by Attenborough. A NASA article explains that 97% of scientists agree on the validity of Climate Change. United Nations, NASA, many organisations, and our governments all utilise scientists and their predictions, and we need to listen to them.
It appears the older, richer, and more powerful people aren’t listening, or maybe they just don’t care. An Oxfam report noted that ‘The world’s richest “appear to have a free pass to pollute,”’ Their report found that the richest 1% will have a carbon footprint 30 times higher in 2030 than what is needed to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. According to the report the carbon footprint of the rich will always be much more than the poorest 50% who are on course to produce fewer emissions to align with the 1.5°C target. Think billionaires, millionaires, and those in the top 10% of global earning – anyone earning over $158K (£117K) – these are the people that need to change, to reinvest in ecological practices, to change the narrative, to save the planet.
The young, the rising generations, know what they’re talking about, and how dare anyone say they don’t. Back in the eighties when I was a teen Climate Change was taught to us. It was mainly about greenhouse gasses and the declining ozone layer, but we began to learn what we were doing to the planet and we began to want to change. We got rid of CFC’s and the ozone layer repaired itself. But it wasn’t just about CFC’s. And now, forty years later, we’re still fighting for change and the planet has declined even further.
The young today are taught from primary school. They know more about climate change, declining populations of animals, and about our earth from children’s books on the environment, than, it seems, our actual politicians do. They want to change. They want to save their planet. They are willing to do what it takes.
A friend of mine took her daughter, who must be a young teen, to the recent Glasgow COP26 protests, and I would put money on that young woman understanding more about the environment and climate change than our own Prime Minister.
I saw a meme the other day on Facebook, a meme that is oft repeated, but it makes me so angry.
It exonerated older generations, the Silent and Boomer generations, from taking the blame for plastic. It explained that they ‘courageously’ walked everywhere, recycled their glass pop and milk bottles, used cotton shopping bags, didn’t have plastic toys, or McDonald’s or Burger King. They had no polystyrene, wrapped their food in newspapers, and didn’t go on foreign holidays. It then went on to blame the younger generations, Millennial and Gen Z, for their culture of waste and called them ‘little shits’ for preaching to them about climate change.
It failed, in a huge way, to point out that if our children had been born back then they would have done the same – because plastic hadn’t been invented and wasn’t flooding the planet like it is now.
And guess who brought us plastic? It was the older generation, who fully embraced its convenience. We probably all would have done. But the fault doesn’t lie with a generation, not old or young, it lies with those who, once we knew of the dangers of plastic, continue to saturate the market, and the world, with it.
Plastic has become part of our world, and if it was easy to get rid of it, we would. But while those in power, both in government and industry, continue to pump money into it, plastic will not die.
The irony being that plastic, point blank, will not die. It won’t degrade and will continue to pollute for hundreds or thousands of years.
Plastic is a literal part of our world, and that is what needs to change. So, let’s listen intently to the young and the scientists who want to change the world, to save our planet, and let’s lobby parliament and industry to change. Vote for those who will take the money out of fossil fuels and plastic and put it into renewable resources. We’ve tried to change through recycling, switching to eco-friendly products, but it’s a world for the rich, and while they continue to flood the market with plastic, non-environmental products, and electric cars and heating pumps that are too expensive for most of us to buy, we can’t win. We have to vote, to be part of politics, to lobby for change before we run out of time.
We have to save the planet for those future generations
– our children, our grandchildren –
and those that want to live in a thriving world, long after we’re gone.