As I sit at my kitchen table to write this, members of the European Union have just voted by 414 to 180 against a ban on Arctic oil drilling. Further proof, if any were needed, that we are in collective denial about climate change and its effects. The hypocrisy of so-called First World governments is truly Oscar-worthy.
The Norwegian government, one of the first signatories of the Paris Accord on climate change, has just granted rights to drill for oil in Arctic waters. Our own David Cameron also attended and made promises in Paris, then came home and gaily granted 200 new licenses for fracking in Great Britain.
To be clear, debate about how we tackle the devastating climate crisis before us is appropriate; debate about whether it’s a crisis or not is just daft.
Akin to the bad old years of the smoking lobby (and using similar arguments, and, in some cases, the same actual lobbyists), debate is often a part of the smoke and mirrors industry the fossil fuel dinosaurs use to blind us to this basic, easy-to-grasp fact: To avoid catastrophic climate change that will affect every one of us, we can only afford to burn one quarter of all the coal, oil and gas that has already been found. We cannot search for any more. It has to stay in the ground.
That is to say that searching for fossil fuels of any kind, anywhere else is a complete waste of time and money, as we will not be able to burn them without wrecking the planet.
To prevent the earth’s temperature from rising above the 1.5-2 degrees centigrade suggested by 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists, we must pour our collective resources, imagination, talent and skills into renewables and begin the transition from fossil fuels to the clean energy that will protect our planet and our grandchildren from disastrous consequences.
I have seen the damage caused by climate change in many different places. With my 15-year-old daughter, I witnessed the watermarks left by dying glaciers in the Arctic, which brought home the reality of climate change with sickening clarity.
Hearing first-hand accounts from the Inuit of the Clyde River in Canada’s Arctic about the degradation of their land and the threat to their food supply caused by seismic blasting (another way fossil giants search for oil) only screwed my courage to the sticking-post. It’s the movement of the century and we all have to join it. Here’s how:
- Challenge the deniers
- Get informed
- Join Greenpeace
- Move to fossil-free investments
- Support carbon taxes
- Switch to green energy suppliers
- Never take a plastic bag (I’ve got a string bag that you can fit a hippo in)
- Stop buying bottled water
- Plant trees, sow seeds
- Walk to work
- Re-use, recycle
- Get involved in the sharing generation — share cars, showers, pets
A clean planet benefits all humans, rich and poor alike, no matter where we live.
A future dependent on fossil fuels will only bring further, deepening disaster: more drought, floods, famine, conflict, refugees. Miami’s future is in the balance. This is no conspiracy. We are witnessing it now. We can choose to hide in fear, but fear is a liar. When renewable energy solutions are available now — and getting cheaper by the day — we have to ask ourselves why we are allowing big oil and big coal to determine our fate and that of our children.
It’s time to protect our world, our climate, our kids and theirs after them.
We can do it if we act together. It’s a no-brainer people. Let’s get on with it.
Emma Thompson, [email protected]