Whenever we experience out-of-the-ordinary natural events we seek reasons and answers. When we have the flood (excuse the pun) of natural disasters and catastrophes that we have seen all over the world during the course of the last three months, then surely it is time to really face up to the reality that climate change is not some phenomenon dreamed up by impecunious scientist to fund their research! It is something much bigger and all-pervasive than that!
We would need all the space the editor allows me if we were to list all the natural disasters that have been visited on the world over the last few months but here is a flavour of perhaps the most significant:
• The driest California on record
• The wettest 4 week period at this time of year in Gauteng, with many floods in Gauteng and Limpopo
• South East Asia has had four times more rainfall than usual
• Japan has had the heaviest snowfall on record
• Southern England buried in an unprecedented wall of water
• The World Bank estimates that there will be 1 billion climate refugees in the next century
• Wall Street companies in the flood protection business are now beginning to actively benefit from the ravages of climate change
• And we all know about the Arctic Vortex that buried the US and Canada under huge blankets of snow
It is difficult to even comprehend that against the backdrop of all this evidence in the public domain that there can still be people that do not believe that climate change is happening and it is happening now. But there are some.
The most important first step in restoring our Planet’s health is to be conscious of our own contribution to the emissions that cause the unusual and dramatic climate activity being experienced all over the world. It is this consciousness that will create the awareness and curiosity critical to finding solutions to some of the most vexing questions in the world today. Your newfound curiosity will also foster an understanding that the big changes needed are mostly at governmental and large corporate level, but not exclusively. There is no doubt that the changes that are needed are at the top and bottom of the scale. In other words everyone can make a difference.
We have been given countless actions that even the most humble citizen can take to make a difference: Always use the minimum water needed; don’t water the garden at the hottest time of day, nor when the wind is blowing; try not to use spray irrigation; switch off all lights in empty rooms; use a timer on your geyser; install solar heating; don’t drive unless you have to; choose public transportation whenever possible; walk or cycle whenever possible; don’t litter; recycle as much as possible. These are just some of the messages we have heard often before.
At the top end of the scale, with elections coming, make sure that your political party has climate issues right at the top of its agenda. Apart from the health benefits that accrue to both the planet and individuals managing the nation and the businesses in a manner that has the lowest environmental impact is the most cost effective option available. Sure, it may require some initial upfront investment but in the long run it will result in massive savings. There are many real examples of this but one of my clients is saving around R50 000 per month just by installing environmentally friendly lighting in all their offices!
If we apply this approach to everything we do we will make a contribution to a much healthier planet in every way.
The future is truly in our hands!