Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Climate change and the "UN planetary health check"

My article in tomorrow’s Cornish Guardian covers issues relating to climate change. It will be as follows:

At the World Economic Forum at Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, in January, David Attenborough declared that “The Garden of Eden is no more.” Addressing the Forum, which asserts to “engage the foremost political, business and other leaders of society,” he issued a challenge for stronger action in the battle against climate change.

Mr Attenborough told the meeting: “I am quite literally from another age. I was born during the Holocene – the name given to the 12,000-year period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm and create civilisations.”

The 93-year-old added: “Global businesses, international co-operation and the striving for higher ideals these are all possible because for millennia, on a global scale, nature has largely been predictable and stable … now in the space of one human lifetime – indeed in the space of my lifetime – all that has changed. The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more.”

And he went on to cleverly suggest that we are now in the Anthropocene – the Age of Humans, adding that we all need to “move beyond” the “guilt or blame” for the environmental crisis we are in, and to get on with the “practical tasks at hand” to deal with the emergency.

Mr Attenborough has also reached out beyond the “powerful,” who assembled at Davos, with a television programme called “Climate Change – the Facts,” which built on his life’s work as a broadcaster and natural historian. This essential work is being complemented by so many environmental campaigners, including the inspirational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

Tackling climate change and safeguarding the global environment are the defining issues of the early 21st century, as borne out by yet another damning report – this time from the UN which has brought together the work of more than 450 scientists and diplomats.

This report warns that “nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely [and] the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

One of the authors of the report, Professor Andy Purvis from the Natural History Museum, has described it as “the most thorough, most detailed and most extensive planetary health check” that has ever been done.

His perspective is so telling. “The take-home message is that we should have gone to the doctor sooner. We are in a bad way. The society we would like our children and grandchildren to live in is in real jeopardy. I cannot overstate it. If we leave it to later generations to clear up the mess, I don’t think they will forgive us.”

No comments: