We’re facing the end of earth as we know it…
You may say my title for this piece is relatively morbid and perhaps overstating it a little. But I must confess, it’s a gross understatement. As a planet we are at an extreme risk of losing everything we hold dear because of years of toxic treatment of others and of the world we live in. We are already at extreme risk of ‘not surviving’ the global warming to which we have subjected our planet, not to mention the toxic institutions we feed everyday: patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, class hierarchy, Eurocentrism… And to think, climate change alone is a terrifying thought.
All of this is terrifying to write about, but it is essential. It’s terrifying because the way the world is heading leaves me at great risk of not having a future to even dream about. How many more birthdays will any of us even witness? Because of the industrialisation of our world, thanks to colonialism and Europe’s invasion of everywhere on the planet, our world has grown warmer in the last 600 years than in its millions of years of existence up until this point…
Extinction Rebellion is a rebellion organisation that’s not only actively challenging climate change, but is against all the things that are leading towards our seemingly inevitable doom. “If we talk only talk about the climate, we’re missing the deeper problems plaguing our culture” says Basden, a member of the Extinction Rebellion team, in an urgent call to communities worldwide.
Patriarchy, white supremacy, xenophobia – they’re all important issues to discuss. But today I want to focus on the environment and the climate crisis we are facing. It may not be the only issue plaguing our society today, but it is extremely important! Without care for our world, respect for nature and its power and an understanding that human beings are not the sole and most important thing on this planet, we have no hope of survival… No hope at all.
You would’ve thought that our world leaders and politicians, who essentially have control and weight over the decisions of the giant pollution producing corporations, would have be more active in stopping the world from inevitable doom, but alas, it doesn’t look like it. Not active enough at the very least… It took 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish activist, to grab the media’s attention and spark an international conversation about the immediacy of the climate crisis.
The conversation about stopping climate change has been going on in protests and rebellion for months now. We’ve been eradicating our usage of straws, reusing shopping bags, getting rid of single use plastic… I even got a bamboo toothbrush recently! But it all seems futile when the world’s governments and most powerful corporations are not making changes big enough to make a difference.
Of course, it is not futile. Every individual effort, every plastic bag eliminated, every piece of meat not eaten, makes a difference.
It’s just that corporations and governments can make a much larger difference.
This year, on my 20th birthday (which was on 15th March), it all came to a head… Students across the world, from Europe to Australia to my very own Cape Town, were bunking school and uni to march in protest to their respective parliaments and government buildings. As my birthday rolled on past, as it does annually, I pondered how many more birthdays I’d actually have… Morbid I know, but the thought has been haunting me. If we don’t do something (and by we I am talking directly about governments and corporations that control fossil fuels, that emit gases into our atmosphere on a catastrophic level) I might not live to see my children grow up. And you might not either. Maybe this is a message you don’t want to hear; trust me, I don’t like it either. But it is a message that unfortunately needs to be told. Because until every single person understands the severity of this issue, no one is actually going to change.
One of the most infuriating parts of this who situations, this message I’m trying to tell you, is that “the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions,” Thunberg says. “All we have to do is to wake up and change.” Scientists have been saying there are ways to solve the crisis, but who is actually listening? Who is actually making a difference?
I recently watched an episode of Newsroom, an HBO series on journalism (my best!), in which they discussed the fact that in 2013 there were reports from scientists about the ‘inevitable doom of our world’ if we did not do something immediately about climate change. It shocked me watching it, because even though it’s a semi-fictional show (based on real events but with fictionalised stories intertwined), I realised how little we’re doing to fix this. The news reporter anchoring the story couldn’t even put a ‘positive’ spin on the story, as anchors so often do in an attempt to soften whatever blow they are presenting to their audience today… Nothing positive can come of our world unless we actively start changing. From the smallest individual difference, to reforms in giant corporations, everyone has a role to play.
So briefly, since everyone always talks about change but doesn’t always outline how we’re going to make change, I am going to share some of the research I did in a short list – emergency tips I suppose we could call it:
- Protest – join the XR protests around the world (organised protest is the most effective)
- Lobby governments for rules to be enforced
- Give up meat and meat products, or at least lower your intake.
- Lobby for corporations to lower their emissions – they need to be down to zero in 6-12 years
- Invest in sustainable and eco-friendly fashion, not fast fashion.
- Focus on how we can uphold the Paris Agreement.
- Outlaw single use plastic – not just straws – take straw and fabric bags to the grocery store. Lobby for grocery stores to outlaw plastic bags.
- Carpool or use public transport – reduce your carbon footprint.
Because, as Greta aptly put it, “What we do and don’t do right now, me and my generation can’t undo in the future!”
There is no future without present action.
I know it seems daunting. It is. It’s bloody terrifying to think that we might not see our grandchildren come into the world… But instead of being debilitated by fear, we need to be mobilised. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it! Do something.
FOLLOW THESE LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Extinction Rebellion South Africa: https://xrebellion.org.za
Thunberg addresses XR protest in London: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKMX8WRw3fc
FridaysForFuture #climatestrike #schoolstrike4climate: https://www.facebook.com/732846497083173/posts/816708645363624?sfns=mo
Our Planet (Netflix and David Attenborough): https://www.netflix.com/title/80049832
Cowspiracy (Netflix documentary): https://www.netflix.com/search?q=cow&jbv=80033772&jbp=0&jbr=0