I’m not going to enter the Climate Change debate. I understand cause and effect. I know how humans impact the natural world. I understand the concept of geological time. I know that everything is always changing – including the climate. I can see how this planet is a complex (but beautiful) network of living and non-living, natural and human-made factors. I know how to think in systems. I am the principal at Green School Bali where our mission is to be a community of learners making our world sustainable. I am devoting my life to changing education to change the world. I am a scientist. I am an environmentalist. I am an activist. If there is a Climate Change debate, then you should know which side I am on.
What I want to talk about is the very obvious need for us to change our relationship with the environment and the climate that surrounds us. We need to give the climate more love. We need more Climate Love. And we need to demand that our governments express this love in decision-making and policies. I like a good debate – it’s true, there’s always more than one side to a story. But what I really like are facts. Real numbers – counted, measured, checked, and recorded. And the facts tell us we need more climate love.
The world generates at least 3 million tonnes of plastic and other solid waste every day – and 6.4 million tonnes of this is dumped into the ocean every year. That doesn’t demonstrate a lot of love for our climate. Seven million hectares of forest are lost annually. In the Amazon, around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years (mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching).
And in the last 50 years, Earth has lost 68% of wildlife. Populations of wild animals have more than halved since 1970, while the human population has doubled. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have been at any time in the past 400,000 years – with a direct and constant relationship with fossil-fuel burning. Fossil fuel consumption has increased by 8-10 times over the past half-century.
There’s no love there.
Whether you are talking about water, soil, animals, plant-life, atmosphere – there’s just not enough Climate Love. Sadly, we have demonstrated a love for buying and throwing away, for energy consumption and pollution, for destruction of natural habitats and resources, for wiping out animal populations – the number facts are undeniable. We need to do better than this.
Let’s stop wasting time on debating climate change. It’s real. The climate changes. Simple cause-and-effect analysis tells us that how we live our lives has an impact on the environment we live in. Try this: throw all your trash on your lounge-room floor for just one month and then tell me your home is a better place to live in; or rip out every plant in your garden and cement over everything, and tell me it’s a better place to hang out; or throw all your waste into your daily bath/shower, and tell me you feel clean after washing.
We need to hit the REBOOT BUTTON now.
I am willing to take the risk – to create a greener future, with more forests, less rubbish in the ocean, less pollution in the air, cleaner water, more wild animals, healthier people – I am willing to take that risk even if climate change is up for debate. We need to access that infinite, beautiful power of humanity to love and start living with some Climate Love in our hearts and in our lives. What have we got to lose?
(unfortunately, the answer to that question is: EVERYTHING).