‘And the first problem in the way we think about the climate crisis is that it seems easier not to think about it at all. One reason it doesn’t consistently demand our attention can be illustrated by the classic story about an old science experiment involving a frog that jumps into a pot of boiling water and immediately jumps out again because it instantly recognizes the danger. The same frog, finding itself in a pot of lukewarm water that is being brought to a boil, will simply stay in the water – in spite of the danger – until it is… rescued.’
Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore published his book warning us about the climate crisis in 2006. I’d love to be writing a post about how, since then, we have all learnt our lesson and now make conscious decisions whenever possible to reduce our impact upon the Earth. Unfortunately, we haven’t progressed much in the past seven years. We are still hurtling head first towards our own extinction, and we only have ourselves to blame. Like the frog, we are largely ignorant to the danger because the changes have so far not seemed drastic in comparison to our individual lifespans. In terms of the life of our planet, however, things are happening very quickly.
Over the past couple of months I’ve heard lots of people complaining about the long, cold winter we’ve had this year. Countries all over the Northern Hemisphere have experienced unexpected snowfall into April, including here in Wales. That’s our water boiling.
News stories about floods, tsunamis and hurricanes are now sadly common occurrences. That’s our water boiling.
Famine is becoming a bigger and bigger problem as we leach the soil of its nutrients and turn the planet into a wasteland. We are already developing our own dust bowl here in the UK (East Anglia), and we are experiencing crises over food such as milk shortages and the horse-meat scandal. Within the next ten years, we will all start to run out of food, no matter where you live on the planet. That’s our water boiling.
I could go on and on.
But what’s the point of us trying to do anything now, right? Surely the problem has gone on so long that there’s nothing we can do to reverse it now.
When I was in primary school in the 1980s, the hole in the ozone layer was highlighted as a major concern to our survival as a species. A lot of people took the attitude that the problem was too big for us to tackle. Me and my peers were educated about the danger of CFCs, and we pledged to stop using them. Within a generation we have managed to at least stop the hole getting bigger, and are well on our way to stabilising it.
My hope is that the next generation will think us crazy for how we lived our lives. The thought of the mountains of plastic bags and take-out coffee cups building up will disgust them. Re-using and recycling will be so normal to them that discarding unbroken items simply to upgrade them will be the stuff of archaic myth. The notion of flying produce in aeroplanes halfway across the planet when you can grow enough on you doorstep will be considered idiotic. And they will live in a world where there is enough food for everyone to survive, food which grows in healthy soil that provides them with the B12 that they need to be strong.
But they need us to educate them, and show them the right path. Let’s not make the same mistake the frog did.