Sunday, 14 June 2015

We Are Awful Tenants

by Ross Watkins

Effects of climate change (image: NASA)

We do not own this planet. We borrow it from our grandchildren and every single creature which will follow us. We have already destroyed this planet for future generations and we seem not to even care. The human race is steaming towards catastrophe of our own making, created by greed and ignorance, and it will drive us towards our end. With 97% percent of scientists agreeing that Climate Change is of our own making I think it is a bold and frankly idiotic to claim otherwise. 

Climate change is not the only problem; we seem to take pleasure in being a mass extinction event bringing demise to the animal kingdom through merciless killing to satisfy our own selfishness.  I would love to thread in ideas of optimism on this subject and yes we are slowly recognising the problem. However, time is ticking towards this terminal event and not enough has been done.

The evidence for global warming it unequivocal and cannot be disputed. All major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. The majority of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Global sea levels rose 17 centimetres in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of evidence, even with it as obvious as this there are still some/many people who deny that it is occurring and that it has anything to do with the human race. In a general population there are always people who lack empathy, are greedy, selfish and have the aptitude of some of our primate relatives; these people are in the same group as those who refuse to accept climate change. 

(source: Greenpeace)
The most notable example of this is the practice of coal rolling. In this practice the Clean Burn Mechanism of a car is intentionally disabled so that the car’s pollution increases. This is done in defiance of environmental regulation. Personally, I cannot comprehend the foolishness. They modify their car, costing up to $2,000, as a protest against helping protect the environment. Maybe a more relatable example is that of UKIP. A party stuck in the 1950’s campaigned for the repeal of the Climate Act and promoted the idea that the UK should return towards coal and natural gas. Suppose it would save the average household £197 a year but I would argue that it could cost a bit more than that when London goes underwater when the icecaps melt. The two examples highlight the refusal of many to accept that we have caused Climate Changed and even if they have a refusal to deal with it because it is ‘expensive’ (so was the Iraq War which cost the US $2.2 trillion which could have solved the issue of climate change but, hey, that did cause war and mass suffering so money well spent I suppose). People do not want to tackle the cost of Climate Change because of greed. We are dictated by economic interests and at the moment a lot of opposition to climate change comes from this. Ironically what people cannot understand is how expensive it will be if the environmental models prove correct. But, then again that will be in 50 maybe 100 years and isn’t our problem. 

This highlights the other quality which those who oppose to climate change have: selfishness. They refuse to act as it does not affect them, or they hope it will not affect them. Only last week I was phoned by UKIP in a post election survey. After answering a few questions I decided to turn the spotlight on them. I asked this young supporter who had called me why his party wanted to scrap the Climate Change Act (along with an attack on UKIP’s policy to reduce foreign aid) and when I refused to accept his answer referring to saving me a bit of money he was suddenly left speechless. He then mustered an answer relating to the idea that climate change has not been proven, even if this is not the party line, and said that therefore we do not need to waste money on it. What this seems to present to me is a person who is self-centred, inward looking and cannot escape the ideas of the past. A perfect representation of the party in my opinion. 

Climate change is happening now and we need to do something about it. It is the single greatest issue of our age and unless we throw away attributes such as greed and ignorance from the mainstream nothing can be done. We must highlight the issue and show people what the actual consequences will be. Only when we see famine, flooding, extreme weather events and the end of political and economic stability as a result of climate change will we act in the way we need to.

Trophy hunting (image:
Partly as a result of global warming, partly due to poaching and other disgusting actions we are diminishing the diversity of the animal kingdom. The current extinction rate is approximately 100 extinctions per million species per year, or to make it more relatable it is 1,000 times higher than natural background rates. They also predict that future rates may be as much as 10,000 times higher. I heard about this first hand when I went to Costa Rica in April. On visiting the rainforest in the Tortuguero national park our guide went to great lengths to emphasise the damage humans were having on nature. Edward, our guide, said that in his 20 years of guiding the diversity in species had dramatically reduced and that numbers were nearly 25% less than when he started. Our guide made it very explicit that it was the fault of humans and humans alone and that this was the consensus in Costa Rica, a country famed for it environmental responsibility. Hunting for sport is a major part of the problem and in my opinion poaching is one of the greatest crimes anyone can commit. In 2011 the IUNC declared the Western Black Rhino extinct due to poaching for its horn. We should mourn losses like these.  Not solely due to the actual extinction of the species but because of the fact that humans have decided that they have the right to harm and destroy these creatures for no viable reason. 

Poaching is not even the most abhorrent form of harming the animal kingdom. 

That award can be presented to ‘Trophy Hunters’. People, who use their wealth as an excuse to hunt, torture and kill beautiful and defenceless animals all so that they can have an adrenaline rush. These people epitomise what I despise about humanity. They show no compassion, no humanity and only act in their own self-interests casting aside the consequences of their actions- I place them in the same league as ISIS and the Nazis. Hunting, climate change and other human related activities have caused the drastic rise in the extinction rate and it is highly possible that our grandchildren will only see elephants in picture books and films made before we had decided that humans were more important than these elegant creatures. By destroying the diversity we are putting ourselves at risk and destabilising the fine balance of nature. We have used our position of power to commit mass genocide against our companions on our lonely planet.

We do not own this planet. Neither will our children. Neither will our grandchildren. The owner is the next generation and always will be. We have been gifted this beautiful planet as far as we know the only one in the universe. It is individual, special, precious but instead we have chosen to destroy it. The last few grains of sand are running through the hourglass and we have to decide now if we are going to stop it now or gamble with the consequences of not bothering. We are committing a crime against the universe by not preserving this planet for what will follow after us. We have a duty to protect it and at the moment we have failed to do so. 

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