Climate Change Ambassadors

The world is slowly changing, and now we can for sure state that a considerable part of those changes are caused by human race. The extent of human influence cannot be precisely measured but the majority of scientists agree that we in fact act as catalyst for this process. However in spite of scientific evidence, researches and common consent, in some countries appears a question “are you a believer, or not”. This is in particular issue in one of the biggest polluters in the world, the U.S.

Pew Research Center’s spring 2015 survey found that majorities in all 40 nations polled say climate change is a serious problem, though the intensity of concern varies substantially across regions and nations. Particularly worried about climate change are Latin Americans and sub-Saharan Africans. Americans and Chinese, whose countries have the highest overall carbon dioxide emissions, are less concerned. Moreover the survey also found that people in countries with high per-capita levels of carbon emissions are less intensely concerned about climate change. The U.S. has the highest carbon emissions per capita among the nations surveyed, but it is among the least concerned about climate change and its potential impacts. However, Americans’ views about climate issues divide sharply along partisan lines. 68 % of people that identify themselves with Democrats consider global climate change a very serious problem, but among Republicans it is only 20 %. Many of us raised valid concerns, when we found out that the US President-elect, representing the Republican Party, Donald Trump believes that global warming is a Chinese hoax.

What is actually sad in this case, is that the precious time which is used to persuade the “non-believers”, could be utilized to fight climate change and prepare adaptation measures. Also, while talking about the big picture the individual components of this issue are overlooked. Droughts, heat stress, land degradation, heavy rains and flooding severely increase risks to agriculture yields, not to mention the effects of massive deforestation.

Developed countries should accordingly to their incomes and economy have the strongest voice in the fight against climate change. The assumption was confirmed by the same Pew Research Center’s survey, in which a median of 54% agreed with the statement “Rich countries, such as the U.S., Japan and Germany, should do more than developing countries because they have produced most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions so far“.

In this I fully understand the developing countries expecting more action from the side of rich countries. But what will happen if some of them, for example the U.S. will continue in aforementioned dispute and delay action? Thankfully countries just like Costa Rica decided to respond to climate change and align its national priorities with global climate action. The exemplary Costa Rican government prepared a far-reaching climate change strategy and is committed to becoming a carbon-neutral.

The committed countries are engaged in the climate action thanks to people, who are patient enough and care so much about this planet and humankind, and continue to bring new proofs, even more comprehensible to wide public. Though one would expect that the more scientists try to explain the climate change the clearer the issue will be and everyone would want to mitigate its effects. Actually, I think it is a setback because all the evidence for most people goes in one ear, out the other.

Here starts the work of those who are more heard and followed by media. A great deal of work has been done by people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Watson, Björk, Emma Thompson or the famous bodybuilder, actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger through the years explains that regardless of whether people can agree on climate change, renewable energy is the way forward to a smarter, cleaner, healthier and more profitable energy future. He says that the renewable energy is great for the economy, because California has some of the most revolutionary environmental laws in the U.S. and is growing faster than the U.S. economy. Also California leads the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech. All this while the state gets 40% of its power from renewables.

I really like his great metaphor of two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fuelled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast. You have to pick a door to open, and enter the room, shut the door behind you and stay there for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine and you do not get a gas mask. Probably everyone would pick the Door Number Two, with the electric car, knowing the Door number one is a fatal choice. Who would ever want to breathe those fumes? And this is the choice the world is according to Schwarzenegger making right now.

Leonardo DiCaprio, another ambassador for climate change, has his own foundation to support innovative projects to protect biodiversity and support oceans conservation, wild lands conservation as well as projects that focus on tackling climate change in general. It was only couple months ago when he released his new documentary named Before the flood, in which proves his own commitment to the cause. DiCaprio in the documentary travels the globe examining our fossil-fuel addiction and thoughtfully talks to various people, from scientists to U.S. president Obama and even the Pope. A serious, substantial piece of work.

DiCaprio concedes that his own celebrity status is a double-edged sword. It draws attention to the topic, but allows the cynics to say that he is a shallow movie star and this whole issue must therefore be a just his hobby and fantasy.

Indeed his documentary aroused a lot of attention. Some finally realised the seriousness of global climate change. The scientists were satisfied, though had a feeling that the movie did not go into depths of the problem. The deniers of climate change of course criticized it, saying that he failed to include opinions of politicians and academics who disagree with these issue, or that by creating the movie he used a private jet and called him a hypocrite.

Yet, media coverage and interest of the general public was the most important outcome. During the first weeks millions of people worldwide watched the documentary. And by doing so, it has fulfilled its main objective, namely to bring more attention to this problem and came closer to finally concluding the question of “are you a believer”.

In world and as mentioned, even against the odds, in the U.S. many celebrities voluntarily engage as climate change ambassadors. In fact this can be very conductive when still a little number of countries decide to take the global climate initiative and raise it as their priority.

Though I think, that little attention is brought to the effects, such as the loss of biodiversity or droughts. This is definitely a thing to work on. Even better would be, if the local famous people in each nation dedicated to set a new green standard of life. In Slovakia for example are only few publicly known people living the exemplary life in terms of the use of efficient appliances, recycling and similar measures aimed at protecting the environment.

Despite the lack of famous people (openly) fighting the climate change, there are no reasons or barriers to not start by ourselves. Each of us. Even by little steps. What are we waiting for? In Slovak we have one beautiful proverb: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

 

Mária Butalová

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2 thoughts on “Climate Change Ambassadors

  1. No matter how good it is in the media, how much a single person tries to help, unless we have leaders like Trump and other “non-believers” there will never be a significant change. And then it will be too late.

    God bless America

    Like

  2. I totally agree with the author, what are we waiting for? In my opinion everyone should be faced with mr. Schwarzenegger’s metaphor, from a simple man buying coca-cola can to leaders of big companies or countries.

    Like

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