Flames in the Notre Dame saddened people all over the world. Parts of this historically and culturally important cathedral burned on the 15.4.2019, and in just two days, people from all over the world have donated almost 900 million Euros for the repairs. This made many ask: “How fast could billionaires solve the great problems of the earth if they were interested?”
The state of the earth is undermined by climate change, the growth of the population which will soon exceed the 10 billion mark, the rapid extinction of species, the deterioration of soil quality, air and water pollution, plastic waste and toxic substances and hormone-changing chemicals in our waters. This information is based on a report from YK (2019) from the point of view of the environment and nature. There are movements rising all the time to prevent climate change (check page.19), but these actions are not enough and people all over the world started to stand up and share the knowledge about the state of the Earth. The problem is not that people have raised money for a rebuilding Notre Dame; the problem stands right in the fact, that there is no huge movement like this for Earth.
The report from YK groups the worst problem groups; global warming, loss of species, air and water pollution, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and soil degradation and deforestation. Humans have changed the Earth to an unhealthy place to live and the rapid growth of mankind can lead to serious consequences. But we have hope; according to the scientists we have the knowledge, technology and money for a sustainable transformation of our societies to safeguard Earth. We are just missing the support from everyone; from political leaders, companies and from individuals everywhere. Researchers encourage politicians to look into complete systems such as energy and food production and waste management. For example, a third of the food that is produced goes to waste. The oceans are full of garbage; most of the plastic garbage comes from the ten rivers in Africa and Asia. Polar bears are disappearing because ice is melting in their habitats and finding food gets more difficult. The number of bees and bumblebees is going down rapidly due to changes in climate, affecting the availability of flowers on which bees depend. Traffic uses a quarter of the world’s energy production and half of the world’s oil production. When industries are producing products to humankind, it takes lot of energy and materials like metals and chemicals. Most of the pollution in air and waters comes from there.
Then again, one human being, as an individual, can ask the question “Why should I when no one else is doing anything? How do my actions matters when the biggest countries like the US and China pollutes the Earth and the Indonesians throw garbage to oceans, and there are millions of people everywhere who do nothing?” There is a half truth there. China is the world’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, even though it has striven to improve the situation. An unimaginable amount of waste flows from the world to the seas from Indonesia and China. That’s why you easily get the feeling that your actions doesn’t matter. Recycling your small amount of plastic or trying to save the energy simply by taking shorter showers and closing the lights when you don’t need them, might get you frustrated, when you realize it will not help, unless most of us join the to these actions.
But let’s think of Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old girl who stood up to bring attention to climate change in Stockholm, Sweden in 2018. Already when she was 9, she understood the threat of climate change, so she gave up eating meat and buying useless products. She stopped using airplanes, and she got her family in for the movement too. She started the school strikes for the climate, and asked people from all over the world to participate. It became a global civic movement that inspired thousands of school students around the world to organize similar actions. Greta Thunberg is from the generation, whose life will be affected most by our actions now. The message she gave in climate conference in Poland, was clear; “Don’t you really realize?”
“I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic… and act as if the house was on fire” Greta Thunberg.
A survey, called Youth Barometer that was published last year says that young people’s concern about climate change has grown dramatically from 2008, when about 40% were quite, or very concerned. Now the number is 70%. So what can we do? What would Greta Thunberg say? Maybe the same words she said in the climate conference, no one is too small. Nowadays, social media for example is a powerful tool to spread your message everywhere. Sometimes even by sharing a simple post to your Facebook page spreads the message forward for tens of people, and from them again further. So use inspiring people, messages, videos, pictures and spread the message. It may well be that it might make even one person think about what kind of future we will have ahead of us, and then another and another and another. Keep recycling the plastic and shutting the lights. Be the change you want to be, even when you feel small, because every action matters.
Greta Thunberg gave an example day of her future in 2078, when she will turn 75 years old “If I have children, maybe they will spend the day with me. Maybe they will ask about you. Maybe they ask why you didn’t do anything when you still had the opportunity.”