<Published first in the Hamilton News 8 February 2019>
If we smell smoke, we have a quick look around the house and if nothing is out of order, go back to what we were doing. There’s no perceived need to panic. If the smoke alarm goes off and we see smoke or flames, we evacuate and call emergency services. We are aware of the danger, and act to minimise loss of life and property. We panic.
Greta Thunberg a 16 year old Swedish climate activist, told leaders at Davos last week that she wants us to panic in response to the danger we are facing with climate change. Lately I too have been wondering why we are so complacent when it comes to the biggest threat that modern humans have faced. The science is overwhelming, the timeline to act is narrowing – the smoke alarm has gone off and yet we still aren’t panicking, some of us aren’t even looking up.
When it comes to climate action many of us do nothing more than sign the odd petition, nod in agreement with David Attenborough and leave it to those with economic or political interests to fumble around for solutions that won’t impact their bottom line. A process that is taking too long and falling far short of what is required.
Climate change is already happening, D-day is getting closer. In fact, the world’s leading climate scientists have given us 12 years to limit a catastrophe when life as we know it won’t be possible. Doesn’t that worry you? Climate change isn’t just about sunny days and warmer summer swims, it’s loss of ecosystems, frequent devastating storms and droughts, the inability to produce enough food and urupa falling into the ocean. Why would you let the house burn down if you could lessen the damage by not leaving your cooking unattended?
What will it take for more of us to be assertive and demand real change? When will acts of civil disobedience take over from the polite yet ineffective acts we currently do to make ourselves feel like we’re part of the solution? I like to keep hope as much as the next person; I like to sign petitions and make submissions, but we have to do more. How will we look our children in the eye when they ask why we ignored the alarm?
Youth are taking climate action in Kirikiriroa on March 15th alongside tens of thousands of others around the world. Join us!