Time to talk about saving humanity, not just the planet

Maybe it’s time to have a serious conversation on how to save humanity from the negative impacts of climate change rather than sticking with the old “save the planet” rhetoric, writes Anil Bhatta from Carbon & Clean Energy Solutions.

The recent IPCC report 2018 has confirmed that human activities have already caused 1°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice. According to the IPCC report, global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 and if it continues to increase at the current rate, alarmingly enough, we are on track for a 3-4°C temperature rise. These findings surely cannot be ignored.

Almost at every United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) meetings, protests and rallies with the main theme such as “save the planet” or “save the Earth” are very common. To be honest, these campaigns are not effective in engaging the public on a more permanent basis. We all know that our planet can take care of itself, and that we human beings with an average life span of 72 years are a tiny invisible speck of dust in comparison to the mammoth 4.54 billion-year-old Earth. We must establish symbiotic relationships and start acting to protect our backyard. We must acknowledge the fact that humans are entirely dependent on the planet earth and not the other way around. The planet earth would probably flourish and may become more inhabitable after the human extinction, but it will survive. The bigger question is, will the human race survive if we continue to live in the 4°C world? Probably not for long!

To assimilate this, let’s briefly go back to the age of the dinosaurs. Probably the dinosaurs were as illusioned as humans about their invincibility on this planet 247 million years ago. The dinosaurs ruled the earth for about 175 million years, until an extinction event that happened approximately 65.5 million years ago wiped them all out. Scientists today don’t completely agree on the reason of their extinction, but it was likely due to some destructible natural forces – an asteroid impact, choking chemicals from erupting volcanoes, climate change and possibly other unknown factors. Even after the extinction of the dinosaurs, the planet earth never missed a day spinning on its own axis. It continued to flourish with a variety of species and life.

At the upcoming COP 24 in Poland, perhaps it’s time to have a serious conversation on how to save “humanity” from the negative impacts of climate change rather than sticking with the old rhetoric – “save the planet”.  Having said that, the definition of “humanity” needs to be much broader and inclusive than a particular political party (Labor/Liberal or Democrat/Republican) or a nation (developed or developing). 

As human beings, when we are inspired we do things that we wouldn’t otherwise do. The world needs inspiration to act together; aiming to save humanity by fighting climate change can be the necessary motivation for all in today’s gradually warming world. It is up to us to get inspired and implement solutions to burgeoning climate change problems. Otherwise, we risk falling into the trap of nationalism and vested interest groups, and inviting climate disasters that have the potential to bring the human race to extinction.

We should all understand that life is a limited amount of time for all living beings. We are all walking with an invisible sand backpack with a hole at the bottom. As soon as the backpack runs out of sand, our time on this planet is over; there is no second chance to come back. We have a very limited time to act and there is no magic wand that will change things within a day’s effort, instead it is an everyday effort, a lifelong one.

Let’s hope COP 24 in Poland will inspire all nations (developed and developing) and all generations (old, current and future) to come together and implement the right climate solutions and actions for the sake of humanity. As wise men have rightly said, each one of us in this world has come to give something; we have nothing to take from this world.

Anil Bhatta is the managing director of Melbourne-based Carbon & Clean Energy Solutions (CCES), which provides services for the clean energy and carbon markets. Mr Bhatta has attended several UNFCCC COP meetings and has written international papers on climate policy, carbon markets and clean technology. 

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  1. Why save the humans? They’ve had a good run. If it’s there time, it’s there time. Move over and make space for a new species to rise to the top and take their place in the order of things.