by Peter McCallum, Coordinator, Mackay Conservation Group
The most intense moments of my life have been witnessing the birth of my children. New life entering the world filled me with love, hope and enormous responsibility.
No parent would intentionally place their child in danger. The opposite is true. Parenting is a process of protecting a new young life, while giving the child the opportunity to learn to live independently.
Maybe that’s why I despair for the future. I have two beautiful grandchildren whose journeys are just beginning. But what sort of world will they inherit from me?
On the weekend I listened to a scientist speaking about the damage that climate change is doing to the Great Barrier Reef. He feels that same sense of despair because he is capable of calculating the long term damage we are causing. He said that if we continue polluting the atmosphere with carbon-dioxide then by 2040 up to 90 per cent of the reef’s coral cover will be dead. That’s just 20 years from now.
Another physicist warned that the world is on a path towards an average of four degrees of temperature increase by 2100. On land it may be double that. The hottest days will be much higher. Our city will be vastly different, probably uninhabitable.
I despair for my grandchildren’s future. They will be witnesses to that dangerous time, as will any child born between now and the end of this century.
I despair because climate cynics have run a campaign aimed at undermining the credibility of scientists. I despair because so many of us have failed to heed the warnings about the danger our children face.
No parent who loves their child would intentionally place them in danger. Yet here we are, wondering whether we should believe the voices of the world’s leading climate scientists or unqualified climate cynics.
It’s clear that the climate is changing. Coral bleaching, bushfires and droughts are just some of the examples close to home. The big problem is that climate change will grow worse at a faster and faster rate. Eventually there will be nothing that can be done to turn back the clock.
It’s time to show the world’s children some love. The greatest threat they will face in their lifetime is climate change. We are the last generation that can stop it. We must continue to demand that our leaders act and act fast.
Peter McCallum writes a column each week for the Mackay Daily Mercury