There are people flocking towards some New York hotel. They have banners: they can’t get past some line of defence. They must stop where their right permits them to. This is not a Wall Street crumble, nor is it a group of activists protesting against the touching down of some African dictator’s plane on American soil. Inside the hotel are leaders from different countries from across the world summoned by Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary General. There is war in Iraq and Syria. It is disturbing the peace. Michel Djotidia’s men in Central African Republic are battling it out with rival militia. There is war everywhere. Such wars have existed, gone underground, resurfaced and truces reached.
But, Ban’s summoning of the different leaders is nothing to do with these wars: there is one major different war at hand. The protesters seize the opportunity to make themselves heard. They too want to win this war. Both parties have declared war on climate change: one is so slow in its approach; the masses want a smoothly swift operation that will see them win the war before the enemy breaks through their lines and slays every single human being on earth’s last command post.
Climate change is one war that has never been tamed by truces. It is a war that has happened concurrently with World War I and II, the Korean War, the French Indo-China battles, the Cold-War through the Gulf War to the Iraq-Afghanistan invasions. Coincidentally, these wars too have necessitated the production and inevitable use of gases that have caused enormous damage to earth. With industrial revolutions all over and an ever-booming population on the planet too, climate change has increasingly become inevitable, threatening earth’s every nation: developed, developing and the underdeveloped. Its impacts on the world’s economy have been so damaging: deaths and seemingly incurable infections coming from pollution of all kinds with governments running up and down sweating to arrest such problems.
The conferences these leaders hold make one think they are very determined to tame the problem. A closer look suggests the opposite. When I was young, dad brought two old copies of Times and The Economist some day: magazines that contain different pressing issues. One of them had a picture of some traffic jam in a Japanese city I presumed to be Tokyo. My primary objective being to see how other countries shined from images in various papers and magazines, I had rushed to the picture without looking at any word anywhere near the picture. Besides, Japan was all Tokyo to me. From the convoys blocking the streets emanated some very black gasses that went straight into the air. Some little attention showed me there was a mention of The Kyoto Protocol in the image’s story title though.
Later, I found out that it was some meeting again where world leaders, especially those of industrialised nations, had pledged to reduce significantly carbon emissions into the atmosphere. It had taken place on the 11th of December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. My budding brain remembers reading somewhere later within the story that it was only Japan which had managed to honour the pledge, or something close to honouring it by the time the Kyoto Protocol was under review. Since then, I have had a feeling that these climate change meetings fall short of achieving the meetings’ preset goals, largely due to lack of political will.
Then, there came so much talk about motor vehicles that would dump fossil fuels for bio-fuels just a few years ago. It was everywhere that we were left with no option but to believe it wouldn’t take long before Malawi’s roads carried loads of cars running on ethanol. Now, it still takes long for countries like Malawi to get newly manufactured products; but the talk about these cars was so intense that people in drinking joints often explained to each other the bio-fuels weren’t any different from some popular local brew: kachasu. This was proof that sooner than later, there would be less carbon emissions into the atmosphere on the home roads too. Since then, I have only seen one labelled “ethanol,” apparently still a promo of the product. It’s not long ago that I saw it too, but it reminded me of the usual talk of a war on climate change that has never been intense and aggressive.
But, climate change is a disease that will cost us a lot if the approach remains the same: some summits without intensifying the work on the ground. There have been treaties that countries see to it that are followed to the end. A good example is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: any country suspected of manufacturing nuclear arms attracts the wrath of the United Nations. Have there been sanctions against nations that fail to honour climate change accords? Maybe yes, may be no. It might be that there are sanctions but the media isn’t interested in reporting on such issues. But who wouldn’t find delight in letting the world know that such and such a country is in trouble for failing to live up to its climate change combat commitment? Sanctions would show the gravity and urgency with which different governments treat climate change.
For very industrialized countries, it is difficult to cut production in certain sectors of the economy as part of global efforts to curb climate change. One Chinese native admitted on a BBC programme on climate change last week that they know that reducing the number of manufacturing companies can in a way help in the reduction of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The only problem was, he said, what would happen to those the act can render jobless. But, being difficult does not entail impossibility.
It is true no government wants to risk popularity that easily. But, what about the skin and lung cancer the industry’s polluted air is causing? What happens to the misery and wrath unleashed upon the planet’s very loyal citizens due to the persistent long spells of dry weather? What will become of the animal species our own inventions are bringing to an end? If all this continues, the world leaders must realise there is one common hell waiting for earth not so long from today. Earth is driving into its own ambush: mass suicide.
Political gains shouldn’t be a reason enough to force us into exploits that are hazardous to the environment, and a threat to our own existence. We should not fail to deploy the most extreme measures in the fight against climate change for fear of losing political support: that’s being so patriotic and loving to a people. They should be able to tell after ages that your bold stand in the fight against climate change is what saved them from an apparent catastrophic end. Very soon, there will be no one to support anyone on earth if we let climate change escape scot-free. We might decide to increase activities that will ultimately lead into worsening the already bad climatic conditions simply to get over some short-term economic trouble. However, the result becomes a change that will affect us, our children and our children’s children.
There are tales here that people in post-atomic bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki are born with different physical and mental disorders. I have never attempted a verification of truth in such folktales; it evokes bad images of the environment and its people’s hours of massacre in my head, but from such talk comes a fear of nuclear weapons among the people here. Earth’s citizens need to be made aware by the responsible, politically powerful authorities of the hell awaiting earth if all we can do in the struggle against climate change is wait for some Ban Ki-Moon to call for summits of leaders at some building whose own raising required a genocide of some vegetation. We should fear climate change more than we fear the bomb.
So, as the leaders gather in some New York room this 23rd September, they should have a feeling that treating climate change issues with such ease is not helping at all. It is them that ourselves and the coming generations will blame for all woes that are tormenting, and shall have reduced the planet to rubbles. But, if we sit and watch them talk more and do less, we will also have a fair share of the blame.
Climate change is some real trouble that must be treated with the same vigour and urgency as is Ebola! If the leaders don’t believe this analogy, let them go get the figures of people that have succumbed to lung and skin cancer, famine and some wanton natural disasters. As they bask in the sun along some of the world’s finest beaches, there is skin hanging from cancer-ruined poor subjects all over the world. As they sit around showing TV cameras their glittering faces, there are animal species in oceans and forests whose generations are breathing their last of the planet’s contaminated air. And, there might be neither beach to play along nor funny rare species of animals to feed our eyes with in the coming few years if we don’t become aggressive in our fight against climate change. The future is in our hands. The faces might turn gloomy anytime soon if we don’t act now.
It must keep ringing in every citizen of the earth’s head that climate change has no cure too. It is only our own political will to combat climate change that can earn us victory. It is this will that has driven numerous climate change activists to go wild with messages that will show the leaders how concerned the world’s citizenry is with regards to how the global campaign against climate change is being unsatisfactorily conducted. This time around, the leaders must show us how they plan to practically, vigorously and swiftly work towards climate change management and prevention, not some mere conference theoretical work that only waits for the next summit twelve months later so it is scrutinized on its efficiency. Alluta Continua!!!!