Many people have not yet understood how dire the situation of today has become.
When we first raised the alarm forty years ago,
the cost would have been manageable.
Yet by now knock-on effects are in play.
It is not only a question of carbon dioxide through burning fossil fuels.
Increasingly methane, a far more potent climate agent,
is being released in vast quantities through melting permafrost ice caps in Siberia and Canada.
I am pleased to see the younger generation
taking up the challenge.
But we must not be fooled
about its enormity and urgency.
And while technological solutions are available,
they will not suffice.
Energy efficiency alone and renewables
will not replace fossil fuels.
What is equally needed is a momentous change in lifestyles towards personal sufficiency
and a refashioning of our living spaces.
One important measure in my eyes
is the establishment of a pan-European transport system running on renewables.
It will be mostly rail,
and it has to be capable of taking over
road transport as well as European air travel
and eliminate congestion in our conurbations.
Elements of this exist,
but they must be intertwined and massively extended, both for passengers and freight.
I would wish to travel from central Europe to places like Manchester or Cardiff or Edinburgh
in one day by comfortable, civilised rail travel,
instead of using the cattle transport system
dubbed passenger air transport by airlines and airports.
China has taken a lead in renewable energy and is now the world’s largest producer, exporter and installer of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric vehicles.
China also has a clear lead in terms of the underlying technology, with well over 150,000 renewable energy patents as of 2016, 29% of the global total.
"Man is a gregarious animal motivated by self aggrandisement".
Lets put aside the first characteristic of man, his being a social animal. It is the second part which is relevant. Bear in mind this is a generalisation - there are people who are altruistic and/or ascetic the mass of humanity is driven by the desire for increased wealth, and status for that matter. So how do we tackle this existential climate crisis before it is too late?
Governments are not doing even near enough to tackle warming, personal action on a large scale can be the driver for government action. Protests? Marches? Strikes even? All of these would help. Why don't people rid themselves of their cars and demand cost effective public transport - two birds killed with one stone
In spite of the constant attention in the media, Green parties did not make a breakthrough. They don't set the programs.
In most countries they remain marginal.
And other leftist parties have other objectives that are actually opposite to the Green Revolution. They are more leftwing populist where low energy prices, purchasing power, (large) family support, housing expansion etc. matter more.
And even if Green parties were dominating or significantly influencing policy, it would only be "token" Green anyway. Green economy is all about selling new products and technologies, raising taxes, creating new elites (of righteous activists that can fly to conferences or crisscross Europe. Or by expensive electric cars).
Many Green technology initiatives are not bad by themself but they are not the solution.
And thus we concentrate on a few symbolic actions like taxing and shaming airplane traffic or solar panels. They won't make the difference. It's just a form of hypocrisy to feel good about ourselves.
The point is that people (and the vested interests in society) don't want to significantly change their lifestyles.
They don't want to sacrifice on having no our large families. They want their car, their fashion goods shipped from Vietnam, their Goji berries from China, etc. They want 2-3 kids. Or even more in religious environments which we have to show respect. Even in rich progressive countries a true Green life style it's not a majority trend. And not even among the activists and supporters.
Unfortunately things are going to have to get a whole lot worse before people realize that major sacrifices in terms of lifestyle changes are required. It will also take incentives in the form of money for both reward and or punishment to force the changes that are needed and even then unless we all accept the most obvious one, that being overpopulation followed by consumption of everything, things will have to get worse before people stop saying it’s the other person/nation that has to change before we do.
We’re just smothering the planet and it’s slowly taking action to remedy the disease. Save the ocean wildlife means giving up sushi, then there’s all the fish themed quasi fast food restaurants, ditto McD, Burger King etc. etc. Forget huge ocean cruises using 12 story tall increasingly amusement park themed vacations, countries producing as much of whatever they consume in their own countries again.
Who is going to tell all those young married couples how many kids they can/can’t have? Unlimited credit allowing people to buy and live beyond their means, if it weren’t for that our economies would have collapsed years ago. The endless buying of the latest “better” iPhones, big screen t.v.s, new cars every year without any huge breakthrough reasons to justify it.
In the US they are currently deforesting the swamps for any and all things paper related, ditto South America for more grazing land for cattle. We’re basically strip mining the planet of everything you can think of, we’re suffocating our oceans with waste and garbage, putting off building the kind of mass infrastructure needed to move people and things around. The politicians will only act if it means more votes for them, big business is the same but for them it’s got to be profitable or forget it.
Unless some major catastrophe occurs and wipes out a substantial amount of people I just don’t see us being able to save ourselves, that’s not to say we shouldn’t try but we’re talking a major reset on every level and expecting a whole lot of selfish human beings to accept this and act upon it regardless of what any other country or person is or isn’t doing just isn’t going to happen.