viernes, 4 de diciembre de 2009

Are we really ready to tackle climate change?

Today was the second time in a week that I read an analogy between the climate change and the holocaust. Articles published in The Guardian and The Independent assured that Churchill warned the world about Hitler and the danger of the Nazi regime, the same way the scientists are alerting us about all the consequences of the global warming. This kind of comparison makes me shiver.

Do not get me wrong. I am not trying to mock or disqualify the climate change and all its side effects. But I do think that the way the media, the politicians and the experts are approaching and explaining this phenomenon, at least in the developed countries, does not seem appropriate. To name a far away and small island like Maldives to tell us that it could disappear if the temperature keeps going up; or to show us images of an Central American or Asian country with people climbing onto the ceiling of their houses to avoid the current of a huge river that was created by a non stopping rain; or to tell us that the glaciers in the Antarctic are melting does not really makes us feel like it could affect our everyday life.

Yes, when we watch the news we may think: “God that is bad! People from poor countries are really suffering due to the climate change”. But as soon as we switch the TV off, we are thinking about what to do during the weekend, or about the stressful episode that we had at work. Why? Because it seems like it has nothing to do with us and our way of life.

The truth is, not even in countries such as Mexico, where I was born and raised, people think that the increasing intensity of the hurricanes or the lack of water in the northern states are there as a result of an environmental event like global warming.

Since few months ago, major newspapers started to publish articles about how the world leaders are promising certain kind of actions to avoid that the Earth’s temperature increases by 2 degrees Celsius. The TV channels broadcast everyday an expert to explain how devastating the effects could be if we do nothing.

We hear the lists of good wishes that dignitaries such as Obama, Brown and Hu Jintao present and promise to implement to diminish the CO2 emissions in the world. But then, everything stops there. I might be wrong (and I am really wishing I am) but, very few of us actually hear our bosses warning us that we will have to think about how to be more efficient with the way we consume electricity or gas, because we need to contribute to tackle global warming. At least in my office, that does not happen. We hardly even recycle our rubbish (!).

I do believe climate change is a real threat and I do believe that we need to do something about it. But let’s not look outside us to see what the big industries or developing countries can do to solve it.

The idea of emissions trading seems like a creative solution, but at the same time, it looks like an easy way to let the developed countries generate as much CO2 as they want. If you want me to be openly critical, I cannot help to think that it is a nice way to help Europe and US to feel less guilty about the problem.

Why don’t we just say that if we keep using our cars as much as we do currently, or if we continue being careless about the amount of energy we use, the kind of floods Cumbria had few weeks ago will happen all over the UK and will occur more and more frequently? Not only we will have to see our houses and roads destroyed, we will also probably have to pay more taxes in order to fix all the damages that insurance companies would not want to pay anymore. And this is just a very small part of it.

If we really want people to think about climate change and realize how important it is to achieve an agreement in Copenhagen next week, we need to make them feel really threaten by the consequences of a generalized increase in the temperature of the planet. Sure, it is important for our leaders to agree on common actions, but if the normal people, the people who actually consume energy and maintain a way of life that is costing all of us too much, do not change the way of acting, it will take longer for the whole process to be completed.

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