Such a simple question, isn’t it? Yet, so profound! How has the most clever species ever to walk this earth managed to plunder it to the point of destabilising its very foundations?
As societies evolved, and as civilisations came and went, we (mankind) became more and more obsessed with self-indulgence, convenience and instant gratification, until we became so driven by greed, so plagued by ignorance, so numbed by indifference, and so complacent at how clever we are, that we ‘lost our wisdom’ (ref Jane Goodall).
We have become blind to the fact that we are part of the web of life on this planet that Nature (Mother Nature, God…) created, and we feverishly continue to dismantle the stability of Nature’s creation that supports us all.
To use the Jenga analogy, we only look at the bottom layers of the Jenga tower for opportunities to dismantle it in order to pursue our all-pervading desire to build something bigger and better for ourselves. As we continue to look up in admiration of what we have built, we fail to see that we have actually dismantled so much of Nature’s foundation for life that it has reached the point of total collapse – like a Jenga tower; and we all surely know how that turns out!
For decades, scientists have been warning that changes are occurring around us that many cannot see or perceive. However, the undeniable evidence is everywhere and if we choose to see it, the indications are disturbing beyond measure. The evidence tells us that we are killing our planet, as surely as night follows day. The sunset of mankind is racing towards us at such an accelerating pace that, unless we change our ways, we may already be looking at the last generations of our misguided humanity.
I will say that again – we may already be looking at the last generations of our misguided humanity!
Well, let’s look at what we have achieved in less than a century. So far, we have managed to:
> Exceed safe levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (and other Greenhouse Gases – GHGs) and are rapidly approaching a critical point after which recovery will perhaps be unachievable.
> Deplete the oceans of 90% of their fish stocks.
> Destroy more than 40% of rainforests globally (perhaps less than 15% of primary rainforest remains in peninsular Malaysia).
> Reduce 70% of all wildlife populations in the last 40 years, with as many as 50% of all known species likely to become extinct before the end of this century.
> Cause the cooling ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise, and vast coral reefs to die off.
> Bring about the massive disruption of climate, and more extreme weather events, which will soon lead to more droughts, famines, fires, mass migrations, resistance to mass migrations, pandemics and global public health threats, and even more challenges to Human Rights.
The list goes on.
How Many More Warning Signs Do We Need?
Perhaps we could speak with the elders in our communities and ask what things were like when they were young? Were there water shortages? Was the river water clear and safe enough to swim in, and even to drink from? Was there plenty of fruit in the forests? Was it cooler? Were the rain patterns more predictable? Did they have an aircon? Did they have mobile phones? Did they have big cars, designer clothes, and the latest ‘mod-cons? Is their life so much better now?
I am sure the answers would be surprising to many of us!
But for the most part, they did have clean water, clean air, enough food, adequate clothes, non-polluting transport, and a roof over their heads. Some will say that was enough!
How that has changed! Today’s children are born into a world set in a concrete jungle where everything is a commodity with a price tag, and we are driven to accept the allure of convenience and commodities above all else – including common sense! And this comes at the cost of the destruction of our forests which (were) our heritage to future generations. We choose to shop whether we need it or not, and the debt collector is coming!
YES – It Is That Serious!
In 2006, USVP Al Gore released his book An Inconvenient Truth. Sadly, we and our leaders (globally) paid little attention. Now, that Inconvenient Truth has arrived, and we are going to be seriously challenged to survive the next few decades.
Over the millennia, there have already been five mass extinctions (or global extinction events), some brought on by extreme volcanic and climatic changes, some by extra-terrestrial impacts such as that which destroyed the dinosaurs. Until now, none has been brought about by a single species’ reckless destruction of their only home planet to meet their misguided ends, and in such a short timeframe.
The sixth global extinction event is now imminent, and we have brought it upon ourselves. Even so, knowing this, we are all guilty of ignoring the fact. Instead of calling a halt to our greed-driven obsession with money and status, immediate gratification and convenience (compounded by ignorance), and indifference, we continue to consume our already overdrawn natural resources and exacerbate our dire situation.
The brakes should already be full-on, and reverse gear engaged. Yet, our leaders, here and abroad, do not prioritise our survival. Instead, they are focused almost entirely on protecting the economy (a political imperative) and restoring the ‘money-making systems’ to get back to ‘business as usual’. Yes, that is the same ‘business as usual’ that sits in the driving seat of our bus as it trundles inevitably towards Armageddon.
At this stage, even planning any strategic economic development budget is a wasted exercise if it does not emphasize addressing the Climate Emergency AND the Economy with at least equal determination – politically, socially, and environmentally.
The question is, ‘will our politicians and our leaders face up to that’? Until they do, they are NOT serving us!
So – the question is now, what to do? See Part 2. – New Malaysia Herald
About the Writer: Retired from a career in hospital management, Dominic has been resident in Malaysia now for three years. From an early age, he has had a passion for nature. He recently trained as a Climate Reality Leader (part of US VP Al Gore’s campaign) raising awareness of the seriousness of the Climate Emergency and what we have to do to address it. He is committed to bringing a common sense perspective to issues that he believes need to be shared and debated.