As a veil of iridescence casts a forlorn shadow over the undulating waves of the Gulf of Mexico, and Mt. Eyjafjallajokull spews plumes of volcanic ash into the high atmosphere, we are left wondering. Albeit that the latter was unpreventable and not a result of humanity’s destruction of the environment, one thing is certain: these stark, humbling reminders of the fragility and power of Mother Nature should prompt action. We have been confronted by one warning too many.
It was one Robin Williams who kindly mentioned to us that using clean coal is a bit like wearing a porous condom – at least the intention was there. The trouble is that when it comes to the environment, good intentions don’t quite cut it. No one hacks down a tree for a laugh, or decapitates an endangered giant panda for a cheap kick, or burns some fossil fuels for a sneaky giggle. But we might as well be doing just that if we don’t consciously choose to save our planet.
Nature has a power that is unparalleled by any man-made phenomenon. I am quite sure that one day, humanity will collectively stand (with an acute sense of hindsight), faces flushed with raw embarrassment and shame at the preventable destruction we have supported and perpetuated under our watch. The exploitation of our natural surroundings knows no bounds, and we carry on swatting away ecosystems, unwittingly, shamelessly betraying future generations.
But it’s not just a case of global warming. Yes, the heating of our planet that will make great swathes of it uninhabitable should be at the forefront of our minds, but the problem transcends that. We abuse our planet, purge it for all its worth, relentless in our deforestation, mining, and oil drilling of the natural world. And it seems as though no one has ever taken any notice.
What shocks me most is our collective failure to hear the cries of a world we are damaging so carelessly, so needlessly, so willingly. And it’s not just down to us. Our politicians must set an example; they must pledge to reduce exploitation and emissions of pollutant gases. But they confound us time and time again. The Copenhagen Summit, billed as the world’s answer to climate change, achieved – you guessed it – practically nothing. Given that, it’s hardly surprising that the environment has taken a back seat in the 2010 Election, drowned in the depths where its screams can’t be heard above the deafening din of fossil fuel generators.
We have a duty to ask ourselves: how would we feel, forever branded with the label of the generation – who had the chance to change – who made Greenland’s glaciers and its polar bears disappear? Or better still, what about the era of the lost low-lying islands, swallowed by rising sea levels? It would be the single greatest perfidy to our planet and our people, born of sheer laziness…
…unless we find another way. We can make the transition; we have the science and the technology and the resources to build a sustainable world. And, in plain view of the facts and figures, knowledge and research, it defies belief that we have not already made significant steps towards this very achievable goal.
We are travelling down an extremely perilous road when we fail to heed the multiplicity of warnings. And soon enough, we will haphazardly reach the chasm that is the tipping point of our planet. With world politicians at the wheel, our vehicle, us in the back seats, races past the danger signs. And we simply squabble, petulantly bickering about who sits where, rather than turning around or braking.
So we either act in the coming decades, and swerve away from the abyss, or nonsensically drive over the brink, brought together by a rousing chorus echoing the infamous words of Michael Jackson: “What have we done to the world? / Look what we’ve done”, followed by the cries of lost generations, “what about us?”