Eleven years, and counting

Outdoor Living

CHANGE BLINDNESS  Like the proverbial frog in hot water, we often don’t notice gradual change until it’s too late.

It isn’t easy being green, but we really need to hop to it

Nature and rewilding
Pat Fahy

Have you ever heard that if you place a frog into a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay put? While usually told to make the point that people are often unaware of that which arises very gradually, this frog fable is not true. Turn up the heat and the frog will hop out in very short order. It’s possible though that this fable says more about ourselves when it comes to climate change.
For many years, some wondered if it was all just too late, but last year we heard some very good news from a landmark UN report. This studied 600 other studies, going back many years, and concluded that the planet can be saved – but we only have eleven years to act. If we don’t, then unfortunately it’s hundreds of years of unstoppable climate catastrophe around the world – extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. For us it, will mean the shutting down of the Gulf Stream, eventually giving us the same freezing winters as Canada.
The UN plan is affordable and feasible, but whatever the cost is, it far outweighs the detrimental costs of doing nothing. They’ve identified four pathways to achieving manageable temperature rise, and reforestation is essential to all of them.
If you’d like to plant some trees without even leaving your chair, then you should think about using the Ecosia search engine, rather than Google. Ecosia will plant a tree for every 45 times you look up something on the internet. It’s gained a lot of interest lately with all the controversy over the Amazon Rainforest fires. Ecosia has so far planted an impressive 66 million trees.
With many extremes of weather and 20 of the last 22 years being the hottest on record, you don’t need to be a scientist to understand that climate change is real. It’s a landmark time in the evolution of the human race. It reminds me of that story about two fellas on the Serengeti being chased down by a lion. One turns to the other and says “I don’t fancy our chances of outrunning this lion.” The other says, “I’m not trying to outrun the lion, I’m trying to outrun you.”
But the thing is, this problem won’t charge at us with the speed of a big cat. It’ll turn our world upside down at the slower speed of the many melting and retreating glaciers.
Think about it. There are only eleven years left until 2030. Many people alive today will witness the catastrophic of our inaction if we do nothing.
Maybe that frog knows something we don’t. At the same time, I wouldn’t like it to be said that a frog has the jump on me or you or anybody else. We need to hop to it folks, every single one of us.
It isn’t easy being green, as Kermit the Frog might say – but being green isn’t so much a leap of faith as a sure and certain plan for achieving a sustainable future for every person on this planet, and all the generations that follow, and long after that.

Pat Fahy is Biodiversity Officer with Westport Tidy Towns.