Ten years ago I wrote that whether or not you believed in climate change, it would benefit everyone if we acted as if it were real because developing renewable and cleaner energy sources would lead to less pollution and a cleaner environment, thus leading to a host of other benefits for humans as well as for other species. Here’s the piece (it seems not much has changed…):
Ive been feeling frustrated about how we, in the sense of we as humanity as a whole, have been endlessly arguing about climate change with no significant action being taken. I am aware of the arguments on both sides and feel the vulnerabilities of both sides, and also realise that for many it is simply of no concern, for various reasons. But no matter which side of the debate about whether humans have contributed to climate change you identify with, the fact is that the climate is changing and there is a possibility that human beings can do something to stabilize it.
Even if nothing we do has a major effect on the earth’s temperatures and the associated consequences, which is also a very real possibility, there will be other major, even life-altering, benefits from using cleaner sources of energy and reducing pollution.
Think of all the health problems caused by polluted air which would be eased. Think of the money on health spending that would be saved as a result, and which could be put to other uses. Consider the enhanced quality of life for so many people as a result of fewer asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Imagine living in the world’s largest cities and being able to see a blue sky.
Then there’s the advances in technology and results of increased creativity which would result from human energy going into exploring new energy creation methods. Often when there is a crisis and a need, human beings become motivated to do amazing things.
It really struck me how we have only the one earth to live on when this morning I saw a picture in the newspaper of the sun. It looked as if it could be held in my hand, and I realised that if something happened to it – our one tiny, little sun in the vast expanse of space – it would be the end for us all.
You could use this to argue for not doing anything about our climate as we are even smaller and more insignificant than the sun, but the realisation that our earth is even smaller than our sun made me see how much care it requires in order to stay healthy and liveable.
If we keep doing the same things we are doing now, it doesn’t take a genius to see that eventually we’ll destroy the earth, whether or not the climate continues to change. At present, we have nowhere else to go.
If you destroy your house, you can move to another one; if your town burns down or is flooded, you can move to another one; even if your country is being ruined, it may be possible to flee. But if the earth starts to die, where will you go?