from Emma Louvelle
So here are some realities. Realities that if you have a conscience should mobilise you to do everything in your power to embrace a green recovery. As an individual, within your social sphere, your work environment, local government on every level, hamlet, city and county. Our current conservative government, companies at all levels, organisational bodies at all levels, international governance on all platforms. Realities built on a story, foundations rooted predominantly in motives of greed and power. A plundering and abuse of people, land and resources. Colonialism, Industrialisation, Capitalism, Globalisation and other systems. Constant cycles of domination and privilege played out on all levels in all manner of ways of our human sphere in our past and present. Where the reoccurring story is one where the few reap rewards at the cost of the multitudes. This foundation of greed and self-interest has led us to a situation whereas of this moment of writing 843, 158 million deaths so far have occurred globally as a result of Covid-19.
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The professor, writer and conservationist Stuart Pimm has said, “There are now a whole raft of activities – illegal logging, clearing and mining – with associated international trades in bushmeat and exotic pets that have created this crisis,”. These spill over events caused by our devastation of the environment include the HIV virus, Ebola, swine flu and now Covid 19. Our increasing reliance on air travel has accelerated the impact. These sentiments and conclusions are shared by the leaders of the United Nations, the World Health Organisation and the World Wildlife Fund International.
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Air transportation is also one of the biggest emitters of CO2. The international council on clean transportation said over the last five years there has been a 32% increase in the industry’s CO2 emissions.
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The World Wildlife Fund has recently stated that Between August 2019 and July 2020 deforestation in the Amazon increased by 33% compared to last year; pushing the Amazon closer to collapse and risks catastrophic climate change. They have also said that some scientists estimate that if we lose just 5% more, we could lose the Amazon as we know it forever. Whilst the online retailer Amazon grows and mistreats its employees the real Amazon is consumed by fire and logging; humanity really needs to reassess its priorities. Liveable planet, buying online goods from an e-company multinational? The real Amazon is a treasure trove, where every three days a new species of plant or animal is discovered, home to over 350 indigenous groups who rely on the forest for their survival and a place like no-where else that cannot be replicated. If we lose the planet’s green lungs, we cripple the Earth.
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We also continuous ignore one of major contributors to climate change; our increasing love and dependence on electronic products and online world. But then we also continue to ignore the online world lack of regard to human rights with trackers, data breaches and manipulation of social platforms. We all seem to have forgotten about Cambridge Analytica. 87 million people’s data stolen and one of those who used it… the Trump campaign. Does anyone really think that Mark Zuckerberg was bothered by the 5 million fine? And why are we not screaming from the rooftops about the fact that no-one was held accountable. So, a blind spot when it comes to climate change is perhaps not that surprising. We must not forget that human rights and climate change are intertwined.
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Mining is a major player when it comes to contributing to climate change. Mobile phones and other electrical devices contain gold, silver, cobalt, tin, tantalum, tungsten and copper. Smartphones also contain palladium platinum, and aluminium. Our love of replacing our products means that there is constant mining. The industry generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste each year. These figures and assessment are those of United Nations Environmental Programme. The UK could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road according to energy company OVO by each of us sending one less “thank you” email. The European Commission-funded Eureca project, calculated that five billion plays of one music video used as much electricity as Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic put together in a single year.
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A way to contextualise these figures is to compare it to other figures. A person reading 2300 books has a carbon footprint equivalent to a single flight from London to Hong Kong. Plus, paper is re-cyclable, plastic and other components of electronic goods overwhelmingly not, are sources of toxic poisoning of our environment, other species and our health and a monstrously huge environmental cost from production. Plastic was recently found in human organs by the way.
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UK scientists reported recently that 28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared from the surface of the earth since 1994. Leading them to predict that sea levels could rise by a metre by the end of this century. Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling said, “To put that in context, every centimetre of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,”. Again, this could, can easily become a will if we don’t act.
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On November 4th the US will exit the Paris the Paris Climate agreement after having started the exit process in 2019. If Biden is elected, he has said that he will initiate the process to re-join but he will need to get this signed off by congress and retain majority in the senate. The US is historically the biggest emitter whilst accounting for 4% of the population. China is the biggest current emitter.
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These are of some environmental realities reported today 31st August 2020, note this is just from today.
Research from the University of Oxford has found that only one in 10 of the world’s electric utility companies are giving precedence to investment in clean renewable energy over growing their volume of fossil fuel power plants.
Last week in reference to the above Nancy Pelosi said.
‘Mother Nature is having a fit…She’s telling us…. She’s telling us… Whether its wildfires I California……Or storms in the Gulf coast…She’s telling us climate crisis is real; do something about it.’
Satellite images show that glacial lakes between 1990 and 2018 has risen by 53%.
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So, humanity is on the edge of a precipice. We have been at this edge for a long time now. Therefore, a timelier description as a result of our inaction would be that we are now on our tiptoes wobbling at the edge of this precipice. Immediate action must be taken if we are to have any hope of not losing our balance and tipping over. It will be a mammoth task due to our lateness in acting and will face heavy-weight opposition, but we must undertake it for once we fall over the edge of the precipice there is no climbing back. No second changes, no rescues at the last moment or do overs. I do not say these things to install fear and despair but as realities that must be acknowledged and understood if we are to succeed. We currently live in a world with leaders such as Trump. Yes, all being well he might be gone in November. But the fact that he is currently the president of the United States, all he stands for and the circumstances that allowed this to happen says much about the current political landscape we find ourselves in. A landscape where an armed white man kills two people and then gets ignored by the police and a black man, Jacob Blake gets shot seven times in the back in front of his children by the same police. Then the criminal……oops I mean president compares police shootings to golf. Where far-right protestors stormed the steps of the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin this week. Where more than a million Uighurs In China are being held in re-education camps and Hong Kong. Where our own government makes blunders and U-turns at such a pace it is hard to keep track. Where lockdown laws appear to apply to some, but not those who are friends of Boris Johnson or a council with an influential Conservative MP. And half England’s, Blakes ‘green and pleasant lands’ belong to 1% of the population. England needs to remember George Winstanley and the Diggers of 1649. Where Putin has held a puppet-show of a vote on the reorganising of the structure and rules of governance so that on top of his 16 years he has already been in power he could now stay there till 2036.
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Ego, power, tightening of control, wealth, nationalism and an embracing of a governing tied to fear are prominent amongst those currently in control and billionaires grow richer.
Then it ripples down, and it might seem small in comparison, but all of this is interwoven. Here in Dorset councillors make national headlines about fining the homeless in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole if sleeping in shop doorways or leaving bedding out. The sheer ludicrous of fining those who are homeless and obviously already in great poverty is an echo of much that is happening. A local council, with the odd exception that seems happy to engage with those who wish to extract Dorset’s fossil fuel resources. Actions that fly in the face of logic, concern for others and concern for our environment. Not caring and protecting for our environment, not caring and protecting others and not caring and protecting other species, whether as an individual, a local council or a national government are reflections of each other and feed each other.
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An environmental conscious lifestyle, activism, politics, policy, governance, support and so on if we wish to succeed must become untied from privilege. Economically, culturally, politically, sociologically and geographically accessibility needs to be option. For individuals, for companies, organisations, countries and at every strata of our global landscape.
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I am flawed, make mistakes regularly, I falter and fall short, but I try. As I live in Dorset home to the birthplace of the Trade Union movement in Tolpuddle I will end by using a Trade Union Slogan.
With respect & dignity for ourselves, for others & the environment.
Rest in peace John Lewis (1940 – 2020), we salute you.