Throughout history, humans have been successful in coming together, demanding change, and causing it. The world is at that point now.
In the past, many mass movements were religious. The adoption of Christianity changed the course of history, and so did the start of Islam.
In 1517, Martin Luther split the Roman Catholic Church and started the Protestant religious movement. The world changed again.
During the 19th century, women began to demand, and then agitate and demonstrate for the right to vote – the right to participate in their government and its lawmaking. This mass movement was also a success, even if some of the demonstrators ended up in jail.
The foundations of the global human rights movement involve resistance to colonialism, imperialism, slavery, racism, segregation, patriarchy, and oppression of indigenous peoples. This movement started in the 1920s, in France, and is very active now.
Today we are faced with the movement to mitigate climate change. It’s led by thousands of scientists from all over the world and Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old Swedish girl. They are demanding climate justice for the planet. This movement is, I suggest, more important than all of the mass movements before it. If we don’t join this cause and demand the elimination of fossil fuels, we are heading for the Sixth Extinction on planet Earth.
Greta’s message is consistent: “Listen to the scientists. Listen to the scientists. Listen to the scientists.” And what are the scientists saying? In the last twelve months, scientists have reported that we are in deep trouble.
In October 2018, the United Nations’ global climate science authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a special report on the potential impacts of a rise in global temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius or more. Three international IPCC working groups with 91 authors and editors from 40 countries examined 6,000-plus scientific studies. They called for “global carbon dioxide emissions to start to decline well before 2030” to avoid the most severe consequences of global warming. It said, “global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”
Alarm bells about climate change impacts in the Arctic sounded throughout the year. In April, a NASA-funded study of the Greenland ice sheet found the mass loss of ice discharged into the ocean from glaciers on the world’s largest island had increased six-fold since the 1980s. Meanwhile, sea level had risen nearly 14 millimeters since 1972, with half of that in the last eight years.
In May, a landmark UN biodiversity report provided another stark statistic: One million animal and plant species on Earth are threatened with extinction, and rates of extinction are accelerating. The report gave a devastating assessment of how climate change and global economic development over the past 50 years have impacted nature and threatened the health of ecosystems important to humans and all other species.
The report’s research underpinnings are substantial: a systematic review of some 15,000 scientific and government sources that also include indigenous and local knowledge.
In September, the IPCC released a blockbuster report outlining massive changes underway in the Earth’s oceans and frozen regions, including glaciers and ice sheets. The report concluded that warming oceans, melting ice, and rising sea levels are already affecting everything from coral reefs to the nearly 10% of the global population living in low-lying coastal areas. Negative impacts will worsen significantly in the future.
The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference will be held from 2nd to 13th December. It is the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN climate treaty. It will put pressure on delegates from nearly 200 nations (except the USA) to deliver concrete action on promises made under the 2015 Paris Agreement.
More than 7 million people went on climate strike around the world during the week of 20th September, for the Youth Climate Strike. These efforts are going to be re-doubled on Friday, 29th November: prior to COP 25.
We have no choice. There have been years of talking, countless negotiations, empty deals on climate change. Fossil fuel companies have been given free rides to drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. Politicians and fossil fuel companies have known about climate change for decades. This crisis is real, and it cannot be ignored any longer.
Mark your calendars for Friday, 29th November. Don’t ignore the future. Join the movement to save Mother Earth.