For an hour each year, to raise awareness about the need for climate action, cities and landmarks around the world opt to go dark, turning off all the lights. While it can be seen as a global act of brief solidarity, the time for raising awareness seems well behind us. This is not a long-term battle; our time to change is limited.
We have little more than a decade to rein in mankind’s effect on climate change, and simply turning off the lights for hour a year will do nothing to change that. Concrete plans are needed, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres said last week, as greater and more frequent reports of extreme weather events and rising global temperatures plague our news feeds.
While urgency is required, of course change cannot happen overnight. Those who argue against climate action by claiming that anyone who uses electricity, uses any mode of transport other than walking or a bike, or consumes any products that at some point required fossil fuel power to manufacture or send off are hypocrites clearly are unable to conceive of anything beyond an immediate shift.
To the contrary, it has always been the case that a transitional period is required to bridge us from our dependence on fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy. Activists and people concerned about environmental issues are not hypocrites for engaging in everyday activities, including using the internet to promote their ideas and solutions. I was once accused of being a hypocrite by someone because I drove a car (something I rarely do anyway, seeing as public transport exists), but they seemed to not understand (or, in fact, even want to understand) what is meant by the term transitional period.
At this stage, no, we cannot switch off all sources of fossil fuel energy and dive into renewables – the infrastructure and technology needs to be invested in first. This is where countries, like Australia, fall down quite heavily. If we were to properly invest in renewables and battery technology, not only could we bring our emissions down and transition to renewables completely, but economically it would make sense because then we could export that technology. Fancy that, Australia actually producing something in its own shores – I wonder which party stopped that from happening? (It was the Coalition, obviously.)
Our government needs to have a serious plan to combat climate change, and the Coalition is on track to worsen our environmental record across the board. Labor has slowly been hinting at some worthwhile policy, but even they are seen as too passive, especially when it comes to Adani. If ever there was an election where you voted on a single issue, let it be climate change, and, love them or despise them, the Greens are the only party with a legitimate plan to tackle climate change.
As I have said in a previous piece, it is hard to have disagreements over economic systems or which religion is more tedious if humanity itself is extinct due to its own ignorant negligence. So please, take three things from this:
- Urgent action is required to transition from fossil fuels to renewables to avoid potentially catastrophic, or even apocalyptic, events from destroying swathes of people and cities (e.g. rising sea levels claiming island regions)
- Acknowledging that this transition will take time and proper investment and will not magically happen overnight; those who argue this are not hypocrites for spreading their message via the only means currently available
- And please remember that there is only one really important issue in elections now, and that is combatting climate change. Be it the Greens in Australia, or progressives like Bernie Sanders and AOC in the US, etc. the fate of our environment and our species is dependent on who is in power and what they stand for. Do not vote for people bought out by destructive interests like oil and coal companies.
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