The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice is a centre for global justice advocating for the people most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world.
After the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report in 2018, Ms. Robinson — Baby Boomer and President of Ireland 1990-1997 — said:
Governments are not responding adequately to the stark reality that the IPCC is pointing to: that we have about 11 years to make really significant change…
I don’t think as a human race that we can be so stupid that we can’t face an existential threat together and find a common humanity and solidarity to respond to it. Because we do have the capacity and the means to do it – if we have the political will.
Feeling a complete inability to do anything – ‘This is too big for me, I give up’ – that’s no use to anybody. [With] despair, all the energy to do something goes out of the room.
Robinson went on to say:
Future governments won’t be able to do what governments now have 11 years to do. In the future, we will have these tipping points – the Arctic will be gone, the coral reefs will be gone, the permafrost will be dissolving … all these things will just spin us out of control.
Four years have passed since Robinson spoke those words. Governments have not done the things needed. In Canada, particularly in the western provinces, politicians raised middle fingers to climate scientists, to the Earth and to humanity. Tens of billions of taxpayers dollars have been committed to oil, gas and coal consumption, even though fossil fuels must stay underground.
I hear from people who acknowledge that Canadians are world leaders in GHG emissions, but say that our population is small so we don’t have much global impact. We should continue doing as we do, they say. Let corporations profit from resource extraction and worry about consequences later. Enjoy the good; ignore the bad.
That position supports Mary Robinson’s description of people surrendering to problems they believe are too complex and beyond their ability to respond.
Austin Brown, energy expert and Professor at University of California Davis, suggests something other than capitulation. He says working together is humanity’s superpower, a tool that can solve problems like climate change.
Climate change is a collective problem that needs collective action.
So one of the most powerful things you can do to fight climate change is to help empower groups working to fight climate change at a larger scale. Engaging in climate change at a collective level can also be socially and personally rewarding.
Professor Brown suggests actions each of us can take:
- Vote with your vote. — Politicians’ votes are influenced by many factors, including powerful lobbying interests. But at the end of the day, politicians know that their constituents have the power to keep them in office or vote them out.
- Vote with your voice. — If you’re not sure how to start talking to people about climate change, check out this handy guide from The Nature Conservancy.
- Vote with your time. — People can work to address climate change through local education initiatives, fundraising campaigns, and more
- Vote with your money. — Donations to climate-progressive politicians, social action groups, and environmental nonprofits and philanthropic foundations make a huge difference.
Dr. Brown says climate change is real. It’s here, it’s scary, and it’s getting worse. Informed people know we cannot wait until 2030, 2040 or 2050 to act.
As mentioned in comments.
Categories: Climate Change