Congratulations mums and dads of 2013, we are the first generation to knowingly screw over our children and grandkids.
Despite everything we know about climate change, we continue to treat it like the Y2K bug or Mayan End of Days – theoretical, distant, someone else’s problem. Those crazy scientists! Where do they come up with these ideas? So what if we get more sunshine and grass grows in the Sahara? Sounds like picnic weather, right?
Unfortunately, climate change is no picnic. And no matter what the climate sceptics say, we need to act now or our children will pay.
A couple of months ago, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million. Climate scientists have described this benchmark as “the point at which we are screwed” (to paraphrase).
The last time this happened, some four million years ago, the climate went all kooky and we ended up in the ice age – and not the cartoon version either.
Before that icy eventuality, our offspring will face significant hardships directly related to our current obsession with big cars and mining wealth.
Rising sea levels will encroach upon coastal communities, meaning millions of people people will lose their homes. Petrol strikes and water scarcity will be regular occurrences, and devastating weather events like bushfire, drought, floods and cyclones will become more frequent. Our kids will have to be vigilant about mosquito-borne diseases and will face food crises as conventional agriculture fails. Wars and starvation are distinct possibilities.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t bear the thought of putting my kids and grandkids through that.
Our moral duty
Leading NASA climate scientist Professor Jim Hansen believes reigning in climate change is as great a moral duty to our generation as abolishing slavery was to the people of that time.
“The situation we’re creating for young people and future generations is that we’re handing them a climate system which is potentially out of their control,” he said. “We’re in an emergency: you can see what’s on the horizon over the next few decades with the effects it will have on ecosystems, sea level and species extinction.” Source – The Guardian
So what can we do? If the problem is so big, surely it’s going to take more than carrying a KeepCup and upping your recycling efforts.
Well, yes and no. Yes, we need international action at a government level. According to Australia’s Climate Commission, we need to decarbonise the global economy in the next three decades, which means leaving almost all of our fossil fuels in the ground and finding new ways to charge our iPads. (read the report here)
As an individual, you may feel your contribution is just a drop in a rapidly rising ocean. But it’s not. We are the guardians of future generations and it is up to us to show that we’re ready to make the necessary changes.
Start by changing your attitude – in other words, stop thinking about now, now, now and start focusing on your kids’ future. Children don’t actually need the comfort of a huge 4WD and cupboards stuffed with cheap, unsustainable clothing. What they need is a secure future and that means you need to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint right now.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even dismissive when people start waving the red flag of climate change, but as parents it is our job to protect our kids from even the slightest chance of danger. Are you willing to accept the risks of climate change, or are you ready to make some real change?
Check out this video for inspiration and stay tuned to Down To Earth Mother for more tips and advice on green living.