Try holding your breath while you count your money

Last week I was sent the poster with the quote that says it all -

Try holding your breath

I wanted to read more about Guy McPherson, the author of the quote, and last Sunday came across his blog “Nature bats last”. I watched the you-tube of a lecture that Guy gave recently at the University of Massachusetts in which he cites some studies that suggest temperatures could increase by as much as 16 C by 2100. That definitely would mean goodbye to the world we know.

Even if earth temperatures rise by only 2C by the end of this century, this will set in chain feedback loops that will make climate disaster inevitable.

What do we say – what do we do in the face of evidence like this? My daughter is 33 and I have to ask myself if I should I encourage her or any other young person to have children.

Doing nothing is not an option. I decided that I should start talking about this to my friends and colleagues to see what their thoughts and responses were. I was encouraged the next day when South Australian scientist Corey Bradshaw posted the entry “Scaring our children with the future” on his ConservationBytes blog site.

It was heartening to read someone else grappling with the same issues as I was. At the beginning of his entry Corey summarises his position “…I tend to be more of a pragmatic pessimist when it comes to the future …if I can’t reduce the rate of destruction and give my family a slightly better future in spite of this reality, at least I will damn well die trying.’

Corey then describes his discomfort when challenged by his 5 year old daughter about global warming.

“Why is this happening? Why are people not doing anything about it? Why are there so many stupid people in the world continuing to emit greenhouse gases without considering my future (again highly paraphrased from 5-year old syntax)?” she asked.

When Corey was unable to provide the answers she needed, she cried. And she has nightmares.

Some friends questioned Corey’s openness and suggested he wait until she was older before discussing this topic. Cory rejects this option. “This is bloody scary stuff and if the youngest generation doesn’t understand this, then we have no hope at all. We need to inundate schools – from primary to university – with the mind-blowing reality of what we’re doing to our only home.”

I am with Corey – let’s talk about it. Let’s get it out there.

It was tragic that an Australian Prime Minister should identify action on global warming as the most important moral issue of our time and then put it aside because it looked too hard.

It is absolutely terrifying that the leader of the Federal Opposition and presumably most of his party don’t even believe that climate change is happening.

If we are not able to bring about courageous government and community action on climate change, to borrow Corey’s words again, let’s “damn well die trying”.

About peterhanley1

Peter Hanley has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. His interests include human rights, social justice, sustainability and community development. True North explores issues in these areas.
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2 Responses to Try holding your breath while you count your money

  1. Scary indeed. Thanks for raising the topic. If our little people can’t motivate us into action noone can. I remember feeling the same when I was 14 and first really started “hearing” about the ozone layer and greenhouse issues. “How could they (the older people) have done this”. Now I own an iPhone… Hmmm… We are all responsible for this mess. Government needs to legislate from the top and we need to make small changes ourselves everyday.

  2. Tracey Foley says:

    So true Peter. The impacts of climate change have made themselves well known in 2013 with devastating fires across the country followed by devastating floods. The Bureau of Meteorology had to add a colour to represent temperatures experienced in Australia due to high temps in South Australia where they experienced high 40s! And sadder still, we can’t treat the asylum seekers currently arriving here humanely and yet we continue to contribute to global warming which will lead to environmental refugees! We need to tell our MPs we want change & start doing all we can as individuals.

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