United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference starts: but will humankind change course?
By John Brace (Editor)
and Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)
Please note that any comments left are subject to moderation before publication due to the ongoing byelection in Oxton.
First publication date: 28th October 2021, 20:24 (BST, GMT+1).
For over ten years this blog has had a focus on Wirral Council, broadening out also into an exploration of wider local government here in Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region.
Over that time I (and of course Leonora) have reported on the ups and downs of politics at the local level.
Starting yesterday (31st October 2021) and for nearly another two weeks the 26th UN (United Nations) Climate Change Conference takes place in Glasgow.
Growing up on the Wirral, going through its education system in the 1980s and 1990s, even education later on at the university level, climate change and humankind’s impact on the planet was drummed into us.
Yet describing the problem, that the human species faces collectively, is one matter, actually implementing the actions that avoid an extinction level event (or near extinction level event) for the species as a whole is another.
Even in my projected lifetime, what has happened already, even with the most optimistic projections will cause massive disruption and upheaval for many millions of people around the world.
Let us be clear too, there are those that for vested interests seek to sow doubt in the minds of the public regarding the science (just like tobacco companies did when they realised their product killed people).
Although scientists will always phrase language carefully with caveats there is scientific consensus as to the general trends, that is the way matters are heading and all potential solution or solutions to the matter will involve change to the way life is now. However let’s be entirely blunt. There is no quick and easy solution. Everything that is effective leads to some disruption and change.
Carry on polluting the planet and you literally send large numbers of those with asthma like myself to an early grave.
Carry on burning fossil fuels in the way that has brought energy and technological advances and you poison the ecosystem which eventually poisons people.
There are certain behaviours that are part of us being human, a series of unfortunate cognitive biases, a belief that everything will work out ok in the end, even the tendency to bury our head in the sand over some issues that unfortunately won’t help.
Climate change is happening, it is a force of nature, it is anthropogenic and our choice (as it always has been) remains stark. These are either protect nature, protect the wild spaces, wild animals and plants, the little that are left and reduce our impact on the planet or alternatively carry on doing what we always have as a species done before with reckless regard for the future consequences.
All the above, has been I’m sure communicated before and better put than I can here.
The coronavirus pandemic showed that where there is a political will to act, based on an immediate threat to life, society can be changed very quickly.
If there was the same political will shown over climate change, I would have far more optimism for the future as just as it is less expensive in healthcare to spend on prevention, rather than treating preventable conditions, too often the stumbling block for progress on climate change has been money and the fact that nation states do not want other nation states to gain an economic advantage.
If there was ever a time to realise our common humanity and for once put aside cultural differences and work together towards a common goal it has to be now.
Solutions do need to be agreed at the nation state level, but it’ll be down to individuals and their decisions, as well as accepting a different way of living our lives, that will be the test as to whether taking action on climate change was humankind’s biggest missed opportunity or instead humankind’s achievement in ensuring a brighter future tomorrow.
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