The emergency became a crisis.
EDITORIAL: John Lennon said life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. We cannot let climate catastrophe be what happens to us while we’re busy trying to cope with other emergencies.
The The most recent IPCC report It is a compelling call, supported by science and bitter experience, that we make last-ditch efforts in order to prevent the harms we still have and to prepare for what we must now.
When viewed in isolation, the prospect of a world that is more dangerous, sicker, hungryer, poorer, and gloomier than we have seen is shocking. But right now it’s so very hard to take in isolation.
The report landed on a day when nearly 20,000 new Covid cases were reported in New Zealand, alongside further accounts of the civil unrest that has so many of us at one another’s throats.
Half a million Ukrainians fled war-torn Ukraine to seek refuge in Europe. This has quickly become a humanitarian crisis that threatens international peace and global economic stability.
All of which carries a sense of scare and urgency, sufficient to invite the delusion – and delusion it would be – that we all have so much on our plates that the naggingly familiar and complex issues of climate change still cannot be met by swift action.
Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the Government’s upcoming national adaptation plan, which will be ready for public comment in the coming months, will reflect the need for “a huge step change’’.
Huge step changes are not what you want to face when you feel like you’re staggering already.
What state will we be in when the plan is available for public comment?
In the interim, let’s hope Omicron will have peaked, and the Ukraine disaster won’t have escalated too badly. But even then, we’ll be in the midst of economically turbulent times of high inflation and pressured households.
Will we be just so fed up with being so scared, so exhausted by sustained tension, so sick of bitter dispute, so longing for things to just settle down for a spell, that we aren’t up for properly scrutinising whatever the Government puts in front of us?
Or do you leave it up to lobby groups and vested interest to fight?
A misplaced sense or fatalism could also be a risk. The IPCC report does acknowledge that many of the impacts of global warming – ugly ones – are now irreversible.
This simple statement might be the point where some people lose focus and miss the more exciting aspects of the report. We still have the ability to adapt, even if it takes a while longer. As one of the report’s lead authors, Dr Helen Adams, says: “the future depends on us, not the climate’’.
The report increases the focus on human rights – issues of health, housing, economic security and education – and rightly so. As with many other tribulations the poor and vulnerable will be most affected.
Mind you, the future we’re trying to guard against is shaping up to be so harsh that even to be proportionately affected will be hard enough, especially for the generations ahead.
When things seem like a kaleidoscope of troubles, it’s hard to hear that we need to keep aware of the big picture. We do, and the climate crisis it is.