As much as we need to talk about the future, with climate change it’s important also to remember a few things that happened in the past. We didn’t have to get into this trouble, we didn’t have to have a scary climate catastrophe looming over our heads and in the back of our minds. It was a conscious, deliberate choice. Because once we get that, it also becomes a lot more obvious that getting us out of the mess similarly begins with a simple, conscious choice: The political choice.
You don’t have to go far back in time, because it was mostly in the last four decades — that is, since your parents were kids around your age — that things started to get dirty and then gradually slipped completely out of hand for our political leaders, those people in parliaments who on paper have taken on the responsibility to safeguard our society, but who in reality have failed to so for the generations growing up today.
Message to the school striking generation: Know your history. Climate change was a choice by your parents’ generation — it was not some accident or a freak of nature.
In case you haven’t looked into how or why we got ourselves into this mess with a planetary climate crisis and ecosystems breaking down around us, we offer a short summary of the story here.
As a teenager today you can rightfully direct your anger, frustration and anxiety about climate change, and what it is going to mean for your future, on your parents’ generation. However, when you look at how it came to this point, it is important also to realise that over the last 30 years, your parents and people in general have been dragged by the nose in a global scam pulled off by just one polluting industry’s incredibly effective ‘Weapons of Mass Confusion’.
Most likely the number of industry executives and political leaders, who have been directly involved in the terribly cynical decision that we should ignore the scientific warnings and allow pollution of the atmosphere to continue unregulated, decade after decade, while everyone was staring in apathy on the rising graphs — which basically meant: that humanity should allow climate change to reach the current dangerous levels — count less than a few hundred decision makers in the rich part of the world, nurturing their own self-interest.
The little bite of history you can read further down on this page is the reason why you’ll be hearing us repeatedly saying in The Sustainable Hour that ‘Climate change is a political choice’: It was a choice that those world leaders made after they had been meeting in Toronto in 1988 to discuss the problem with catastrophic climate change – as they afterwards returned home and decided to do nothing about it.
It is even more so a crucial choice three decades down the track.
As voters, every time there’s been an election the last 30 years, your parents have made that political choice. But if you ask them, they may be telling you now that, well, they “didn’t know”, or they “didn’t realise how bad it would get.” True, in most elections over this period, climate change just hasn’t been on the election agenda. Because of all the trolled and deliberately misguided discussions back and forth about whether the science could be trusted or not, it has been treated more like a taboo during elections.
What you can let your parents know today, though, is that you won’t buy that any longer. The next election is approaching fast, and this time, they can no longer claim that “they didn’t know”, or that “they didn’t have a choice”. Even if the media and the political candidates still try to keep the topic off the agenda, it is not that hard to find out what their policies are on climate change. Have the candidates your parents intend to vote for signed a climate emergency declaration petition, for instance? If not, how can any parent justify voting for them, with the knowledge we have today?
With climate change, we all have a choice when it comes to whether or not we want to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Now, to the story we wanted to tell you about:
“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war. The Earth’s atmosphere is being changed at an unprecedented rate by pollutants resulting from human activities… These changes represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe…”
Quote from a paper published by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society as a conference statement – the conclusions of the ‘World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere’, held in Toronto on 27–30 June 1988.
This international conference set the first global emission reduction targets, calling for a 20 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide by the year 2005. The brunt of this was to be borne by developed countries, using 1988 as the base year.
At the time, these so-called ‘Toronto targets’ became important benchmarks worldwide.
Imagine if they had been implemented. Imagine where the world would be today, had the fossil fuel barons not been allowed by parliamentarian puppets to intervene with their ‘Weapons of Mass Confusion’ – just because they wanted to keep their businesses running, regardless of the dire consequences, which were described with shocking clarity at that Toronto conference in 1988.
Over the last 30 years since then, the global community has been taken by the nose by industry polluters. In that same period, humanity has blasted more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than ever before.
Scientists estimate that 50 per cent of all the greenhouse gas emissions from humans were emitted within the past 40 years.
As the Toronto paper illustrate, the current generation of leaders have willfully ignored this knowledge about the dire consequences of their inaction.
→ See the paper here:
‘The changing atmosphere: implications for global security. Conference statement’
“In 1988 some world leaders identified global warming as their biggest concern. Margaret Thatcher referred to herself as a green prime minister. George H.W. Bush said he would be “an environmental president” if elected. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed a Minister of the Environment who said that “global warming… threatens the survival of our species.”
~ David Suzuki, in the introduction of the revised edition of his book The Sacred Balance, Rediscovering Our Place in Nature.
» The Conversation – 30 November 2017:
It’s 30 years since scientists first warned of climate threats to Australia
» Climate.gov – 1 August 2018:
Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
“According to current scientific knowledge, the existing commitments will not solve the climate change problem,” said Angela Merkel already at the United Nations’ very first COP in 1995.
Even so, emissions of greenhouse gases grew at a faster rate in the period 2000-2010 than they did over the previous three decades.
More about the greatest and most underreported scandal in human history here:
“For a moment, do a thought experiment. You’re a long-lived, budding astrobiologist on the planet Proxima Centauri b. You’ve just spent several hundred Proxima b years using that world’s largest space telescope to take a spectrum of the light from an intriguing planet about 4 light years away. Some unknown process on this planet seems to be persistently adding carbon dioxide to its atmosphere. Seasons come and go, but the composition of the planet is changing during your own lifetime. Your conclusion? If there’s life on that world, something potentially catastrophic is happening to it.”
~ Caleb A. Scharf
Scientific American – 26 April 2017:
The Crazy Scale of Human Carbon Emission
“Want some perspective on how much carbon dioxide human activity produces? Here it is”
2015 was the hottest year on Earth since records of average global temperature began in 1880.
The global temperature increase is expected to cause major damage to ecosystems. Some areas on Earth will becoming more prone to droughts, whereas the coastal areas will be prone to flooding. Climate change will affect human health, food security and economic development.
This increase in extreme weather events and catastrophes is not a coincidence, it is not an accident, a curse or some freak of nature. This is a cynically ‘planned catastrophe’ caused only because of money self-interest and greed.
Not only have our governments allowed the atmospheric concentration of CO2 continue to rise over the last 30 years, but the rate at which it is increasing is itself still increasing. The rate at which atmospheric CO2 is increasing has grown by a factor of about 250 per cent.
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have gone over 400 parts per million in Antarctica for the first time in four million years. This concentration will not go down without a significant rise in the carbon sequestration mechanisms of the biosphere, restoring grasslands, soils, wetlands, forests, green and coastal ecosystems.
A study has shown that a two per cent rise in carbon content of the Earth’s soil with regenerative agriculture could offset 100 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. How could we make that happen? Again, it is a political choice – and not something we can change at large scale as individuals.
» The Conversation – 10 November 2017:
How carbon farming can help solve climate change See more data, graphs and learn more on the New York Times’ Teach About Climate Change With These 24 New York Times Graphs
“Former vice president Al Gore said that one of Obama’s first acts as US president should be to demand a move to 100% renewable energy within 10 years.”
» The Guardian – 10 November 2008:
Gore urges US to try for 100% renewable energy within a decade