I have a little grand daughter – I want her to have a world. Yet my mind has been sharpened by reading the prediction of the Onehundred months group (http://onehundredmonths.org/) that in just 100 months time, if we are lucky, climate change will reach an irreversible stage. It’s frightening to think how little governments, international organisations, and you and I have internalised this message. The group’s message is clear: the level of carbon dioxide is the highest ever due to human activity, as 1,000 tonnes of CO2 are released into the Earth’s atmosphere every second, yes, second. If we do nothing, the earth’s climate will be shifting into a more volatile state with catastrophic consequences, yet the British are building a third runway in Heathrow and opening a new generation coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, while the US presidential hopeful Barack Obama is reversing his policy over petrol prices, promising not to reduce American dependence on fosil fuels, but rather on Middle East oil.
Some anticolonial, antiracist and liberation activists say that concentrating on the environment is spurious when there are more urgent things to work for, such as clean water, food, shelter, security and, yes, national liberation. Yet, as George Monbiot (www.monbiot.com) says, those who identify a conflict between environmentalism and humanitarianism have either failed to read or refused to understand (the admittedly complicated) science. Monbiot says that it all hinges on stopping coal, unless we leave it – and the carbon dioxide it produces – in the ground, human development will start spiralling backwards.
And there is no point in saying, as western governments tend to, that it’s all because of China, India and Brazil. According to onehundredmonths.org, it is up to wealthier countries such as Britain (and Ireland? where is the public debate in ireland? Or in Israel-Palestine?) to take a lead. During World War II Britain showed it was able to galvanise itself and the population by reducing resource use – it can do so again.
My little granddaughter smiles at me and looks trustingly at the adults surrounding her adoringly – for her, and for the children in Palestine, Africa, Asia and everywhere else we and our governments must take immediate action. There are plenty of plans – look up the New Green Deal at neweconomics.org and start putting pressure on your governments.