Climate Change: Why are we waiting?
10 January 2013
If there is one environmental issue that is on almost everyone’s mind it is climate change, or as some may say “the elephant in the dark corner” that we are slightly pretending isn’t there. Climate change has been dominating news headlines for years now, almost decades and if you haven’t heard about it, then you have been living under a rock. There are varied stories and debates that surround the particular problem and they most likely go along the lines of “it is an immediate threat” or “it is false and not happening” or some other story that is somewhere in between those two.
For those of you who have a limited knowledge on the subject I can explain it in a nutshell; since the industrial revolution humans have increased the usage and consumption of fossil fuels that have released the carbon dioxide stored inside resources like coal and oil, two commodities that we use everyday. The release of excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has resulted in a excessive amount of carbon dioxide floating around in the atmosphere, which in effect creates a blanket around the Earth that doesn’t let heat escape all too easily, which leads to a heating effect, globally. This will eventually lead to a diverse range of destructive environmental disasters, such as changing weather patterns.
If you’ve read any of my writing previous to this it should be pretty obvious by now that I am in the camp which states that climate change is “real” and is happening as we speak and it is an immediate and future threat to both the planet and humans well being. I’ll give my reasons as to why my mindset is set on this theory later.
Part of the reason that I am writing this article right now is because of the recent headlines that I have been seeing about my home country, Australia. The country as a whole is experiencing some of the hottest days on record and it just seems to keep on getting worse. And while on the other side of the world in Nepal they are experiencing the opposite end of the spectrum, the coldest winter in the past 5 years. But we also shouldn’t forget recent climate related natural disasters that struck the Caribbean and New York, which went by the name of Hurricane Sandy.
The examples given above are simply just the tip of the iceberg of what we have experienced as a global society as a whole and in the past. They are also part of a small concentrated amount of issues that circulated through the mainstream media channels. Sadly, we have heard little of smaller local and community level climate change related issues that are happening, right now, in communities all over Asia and other developing regions. This is in my opinion is of much more importance to the world as the adverse affects of climate change are effecting the poor in ways where they do not have the proper resources to cope, like us richer peoples.
One of the core reasons as to why I am personally convinced that climate change is a “real” issue is one partly because of my educational background in environmental sciences and the second part is witnessing and discussing first hand experiences with countless local peoples throughout the Asian continent. My educational background gave me the foundations and knowledge of the issues that surround the current debate as to whether or not climate change is a “real” issue. It was however first hand experiences and discussions with local peoples while travelling that lifted my views from believer to absolute certainty.
During the past 5 years of travel I have gone through a vast array of different landscapes, ecosystems and climatic regions that have been an assault on all extremes from bone-chilling frozen mountain ranges to steaming hot jungles. The local knowledge that I have gained just from verbal discussion is some of the most important educational material I have ever received, the people I have talked to have lived on the land for generations and know it better than any outsider. In fact, their livelihoods are directly dependent on stable weather conditions as their way of life and source of income is directly linked with agriculture, the growing of food, the system that requires sound climate conditions.
A perfect example of the former would be from recent discussions with Cambodian farmers in the Kompong Cham province no more than 7 months ago. Their main crop is rice, a very water intensive food source. In this particular region they are situated in during the monsoonal months that starts sometime in May and runs through until October, has in the past decades been very…well random. The heavy downpours that the older generations were used to have not been occurring consistently as they once were. Rather they are experiencing hot weather, with little rainfall and when it does rain, it floods. My first hand experience really hit me in the Nepal Himalaya mountain range, where first in 2009 I noticed significantly less snowfall in the mountain ranges during a period where it should historically have been snowing, this trend has continued on until very recent times. In addition to this, the large lakes that are forming on top of glaciers are another sign that the region is warming, which is also leading to glaciers shrinking. These two examples are similar to what I stated earlier in a way that they are only the tip of the iceberg of issues in which I could name and give examples of.
To me there is no debate as to whether or not this phenomenon is occurring, it is. There is no question. How much more evidence do we need to realise and wake up to ourselves? Why are we waiting for the world to simply change, without making individual changes to our lifestyles ourselves? Adverse direct and real things are happening at an ever-increasing rate. Not a day goes by where there isn’t a story in the news of a climate related problem.
So how can we still be questioning this? Us individuals are in a position to do something incredible and change. We wait for our governments and big businesses to step up to the challenge, but they wont. I have no faith in our governments or businesses to make quick and long lasting effective change. Think about how many times these almost pointless “climate conferences” have failed to achieve anything constructive, we are still outputting the same, if not more fossil fuels than we have previously. Just about the only thing they have succeeded in is bringing politicians and businessmen together to discuss neoclassical economics. We have reached a point where we as individuals need to empower ourselves and change our way of life, vote with our decisions and voices. We need to stop relying on unreliable and irresponsible governments and institutions. We are in an era of people power, now lets start!