THE PARIS CLIMATE SUMMIT: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HUMANITY TO SEIZE

by Natasha Senior

For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.

The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.

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OUR ENVIRONMENT: STARING INTO THE ABYSS

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by Gunnar Eigener

“When the last tree has been cut, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught then we will find out that we can’t eat money.” Anonymous proverb

We look to politicians, policy-makers and leaders of industry for guidance and reassurance that the world we live in is being taken care of, for us to live in now and for future generations to enjoy. We shouldn’t bother. When it comes to the environment it’s hard to know where to turn to and who to trust.  Donald Trump once tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” According to a Greenpeace report, the Koch brothers have invested about $79 million in anti-climate change research and like-minded groups. Last week saw the sale of National Geographic to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox whose news channel, Fox News, was found in 2013 to be only 72% accurate when reporting on science-related segments.

Here,in the UK, the Conservatives have cut support for onshore wind farms and solar installations and changed their minds about fracking on sites of scientific interest (SSSIs).to make any place fair game. New legislation ensures that the United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) must change its selection process for members, potentially giving more influence to energy and fuel industry representatives and reducing the level of expertise available to the board. Meanwhile, going as far back as 2011, Florida officials within the Department of Environmental Protection were told not to use the terms ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability’.

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