Urgent action needed to tackle climate crisis

Date: Monday 1st April 2019

I FULLY endorse John Bodger’s excellent letter (Herald, 23rd March).

We absolutely have to do our best to kerb climate change or our planet will become uninhabitable.

There is one point in Jeremy Godwin’s letter (Herald, 16th March) that I would agree with — we will have to adapt to climate change.

It is already with us and we are already seeing the effects — Storm Desmond; the deadly fires in California last November; the heatwave in Australia that saw the record temperature of 49.5C this January; and now the devastating cyclone Idai that has killed thousands and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of millions of people in southern Africa — to name but a few.

The likelihood and severity of these extreme events is being massively increased by climate change. Indeed, that term is no longer apposite, what we are facing is a climate crisis.

While those like us who are fortunate to live in a temperate and wealthy region have the resources to adapt and protect ourselves from the worst effects, those in poorer and more vulnerable regions don’t. And the tragic irony is that the people who will suffer the most are those who have contributed least to the problem. The average CO2 emissions of a citizen of Mozambique, Malawi or Zimbabwe are a tiny fraction of a European’s or an American’s.

And the natural world — everything from plants and forests, to birds and mammals — won’t have time to adapt.

It is imperative that we act to limit climate change as much as we can.And thank goodness young folk are grasping the urgency of this. They are the ones who will suffer if we fail.

The way we live has for too long been steered by corporate interests, feeding us a constant diet of advertising telling us that we need to consume more, get the latest fashion or the next version of a gadget, drive a bigger car, or go on more exotic holidays.

We need to recognise that rejection of this treadmill of consumption might actually make us happier, eating less meat and dairy will make us healthier, walking and cycling more could rejuvenate us, and using public transport might help us reconnect with our fellow human-beings — as well as protecting the climate.

There is so much we can all do to reduce our own carbon footprint but it is vital that our government, from local to national, also addresses this matter as the emergency it is.

They can and should stop supporting fossil fuels and prioritise the rapid transition to renewable energy and greater energy efficiency. Every decision, every contract, every policy, every piece of legislation should be weighed up against the question, is this going to help solve the climate crisis or make it worse?

And perhaps the simplest thing that any of us can do is to vote for representatives who not only understand the climate crisis but are committed to implementing climate solutions and quickly. We all have the opportunity — and the responsibility.

ALI ROSS

Matterdale End.