My friends and I just watched the National Geographic documentation about climate change called “Before the Flood”. Leonardo DiCaprio travels around the world to experience how we destroy our earth, which different effects climate change has and which actions are taken against it.
We study Environmental and Resource Management. We are tree-hugging pacifists and eco freaks. We are mostly vegetarians and a lot of vegans. We drink out of glass bottles and detest plastics, we go by bike everywhere and we separate our waste to a stage where our passion irritates other people. We are a community of students who love their planet. But we have our flaws and are inconsequent sometimes.
Our first reactions to the film? Rage. On humankind, on the industries, the lobbyism. On people who are denying climate change, who try and take the easy way out. About the fossil fuel industry blocking the way to renewables, on people who burn down tropical rainforests, who pollute the oceans, people who travel everywhere by plane and consume meat daily. We had a rage on everyone.
Rage doesn’t lead us anywhere. There are a few possibilities how you can react when you see the extent of climate change influencing us and our planet.
1. The Denier. It’s very easy for you and you stay very comfortable. You don’t change anything, everything around you changes. You do not consume any media anymore because that would remind you that global warming is happening.
2. The Well-informed. You know what is happening but do not draw any conclusions. “It is lovely that you are a vegan but I couldn’t do it.” You go on and eat meat every day. (I was that person once, just so you know.) You are furious about the fossil fuel industry and how we damage our earth but still drive a car to work.
3. The Angry. You can’t believe that NO ONE DOES ANYTHING! We have all this information and people advocating for sustainable living but nothing changes! You join protests and climate marches and will try to convince everyone around to adapt their lifestyle. Shouting is not beneficial, though. That’s why many people don’t believe you. You may be right. It’s just uncomfortable to hear that kind of criticism.
4. The Changer. You are well-informed and interested in the conversation. You have taken into account your lifestyle choices. You may have changed your habits or diet, you may speak up about the issue. You are not driven by rage anymore but by thoughtful reasoning, by explaining and educating. We need to state that we know and we care and we want change.
Industrialised nations have initially caused climate change. Everyone else is worrying about it because of flooding, air pollution, extensive heat events and droughts, extreme storms… Do you notice something? We will face these same challenges! Yet many people in industrialised nations deny climate change! I just found a graph showing that those who emit the most carbon are the least concerned about climate change. Chart 2 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/18/what-the-world-thinks-about-climate-change-in-7-charts/ We export our production to other countries and let them face the consequences. You cannot escape this globe. It is an issue we all have to deal with.
Where will you flee if the summers become so hot that you don’t have anything to eat anymore?
Where will you flee if huge storms and floods and fires destroy everything you have built?
Where will you flee if countries fight wars over water?
Where will you flee when your house is underwater because of rising sea levels?
Where will you flee when the air you are breathing is so toxic and polluted that you have to wear a mask everyday?
Do you still believe we have a choice?
Our consumption needs to change. What are you eating? Do you consume meat, dairy products and eggs every day? You are one of the main polluters of this world. The whole food industry is emitting more greenhouse gases than the whole transportation industry. In the US, 47% of land is used for food production and 70% of that for cattle. You have heard about the burping cows and how bad they are. Methane is 23 times worse than CO2 in terms of the greenhouse effect. We don’t create new land for more cattle. We destroy active ecosystems, we damage our earth to be able to consume more and more and more. You are feeding an industry that takes the ground under your feet away.
In the documentary DiCaprio visited India and talked to a woman about renewable energy and electricity. He was telling her how investment has to be done in alternative energies because the Americans will not change their consumption. She shakes her head. “Who will invest?” The developing countries are doing much more in the direction of renewable energies than the US. They have to make the transition now. One American consumes as much as 10 Chinese, 34 Indians or 61 Nigerians.
It is mostly just talking. The awareness is missing. It’s the same in Germany. I’m not denying it. However, we get around 30% of our energy from renewables, especially solar and wind. In the US it is only 13.4%.
Who is bringing the real change? Denmark for example is able to power the whole country with wind energy on good days. More than 100%!
10/07/2015 in the Guardian:
“On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3 am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%.”
Iceland has also reached nearly 100% due to hydropower and geothermal energy. Sweden has plans to change completely to renewable energies until 2040. That sounds so hopeful, doesn’t it?
I would like to finish this article on a positive note. Change is possible if we work for it.
We are the last generation to fix this problem. We don’t want our children to see a world that is destroyed, a world where a critical point has been reached and the climate collapses. We would feel guilty, we would BE guilty! What would be our regrets when they grow up in this world? How would we explain it to them?
We are sorry.
We were addicted to fossil fuels, to meat, fish and dairy products.
We were addicted to driving our cars everywhere.
We wanted more and always more.
We are sorry, we killed the rainforests and the coral reefs.
We are sorry that no more island states exist.
Do you want to stand before your children and have to explain all that to them?
Tomorrow the Paris Agreement is coming into action. Let’s not just hope that there will be a change. We have to make it happen ourselves. Climate Change is real and we have to take action NOW.
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