Smoke and fire

Like everyone I know, I’ve found this summer’s fires and the current heat wave to be deeply troubling, not to mention uncomfortable.  Many of us have read the summary of the 2021 Assessment Report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and have been disturbed by the report’s comment that these findings represent “a Code Red for humanity”:

It’s shocking to read UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ statement that many of these changes are becoming irreversible.

There might be slight encouragement in the words of Eddy Perez, an International Climate Diplomacy Manager, who states that limiting global warming to 1.5C is not negotiable and still possible: “We need to fight to restore our broken relationship with nature and with ourselves; we need to fight back against any delays to urgent climate action,” he says, and “There is no substitute for phasing out fossil fuels and cutting emissions in half this decade.”

Many very concerned, aware and intelligent people say that individual action will not make any difference, and it’s true that individuals making changes in their carbon consumption – renouncing airplane flights, unnecessary car travel, red meat, and practicing voluntary simplicity, etc. – will not be enough.

However, I believe significant change in institutions, societies and belief systems has always started from individual action. People create change by putting real pressure on politicians and policymakers in governments and corporations. We can do so by using our votes and our voices effectively. And our purchasing power. We have done it before and we can do it again. We can. We must!

I’ve just now written letters – real letters, not emails, so that they can’t be so easily dismissed – to my MLA and MP stating that the climate crisis has to be at the top of all government agendas and we need them to take strong action and follow the recommendations of the IPCC report. I’m also going to check out what investments are in my pension plan and other holdings and try to argue for environmentally ethical choices. And I urge others to write similar letters. There’s an election coming. Let’s speak up for the environment.

If our governments do implement the report’s recommendations, it will make things very uncomfortable for us for the next few decades. If they don’t do this, the next few summers, years and decades will quickly become much more uncomfortable, perhaps catastrophic.

I find myself thinking of PK Page’s dystopic novella, Unless the Eye Catch Fire. How prescient she was! How inattentive we have been.

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