Rio disappointment

Yet another climate conference has come and gone with essentially no material progress towards tackling one of the most important challenges humanity has ever faced.

Is that hyperbole?  I don’t think so.

The rate at which humans are altering the earth’s ecosystem is unprecedented.  I don’t mean “the fastest for 100 years” here, I mean geologically unprecedented.  Sure, the odd meteorite or ice age has hit, but we’ve never consumed the earth’s resources in an exponentially growing manner before.

Climate change is only one of the manifestations of this.  Biodiversity loss is another, and the consequences of that could be just as dire.

But sticking to the main point, it staggers me that endless column inches and TV studio hours are devoted to whether Greece will leave the Euro, but very little to the fact that we are probably only a couple of generations away from permanently altering the way our species has to live.  Humans obviously have an extreme short term focus, but I’m amazed that we can logically and rationally understand, document and explain this, but not emotionally react to it in a way that leads to action.  You can blame the vested interests of the fossil fuel based industries (and they deserve plenty of criticism) but their voice is small compared to the popular will, so I think we need to look closer to home.

Which brings me to Rio.

After a disappointment like this, and bearing in mind what I just said, I feel a responsibility to “do something about it”.  I work in the environmental sector, trying to finance companies and facilities which will improve the way we look after our planet, and in particular our waste.  So I feel I contribute to “doing something”.  But there is a nagging feeling that it’s just not enough.  Unless we can really scale those activities (and if we can’t it won’t be for the lack of trying), the impact on a global scale is only ever going to be limited.

I suppose this blog is in part an attempt to assuage my guilt for not doing more.  I joined twitter (@james_samworth) to try to spread information and opinions and contribute to the global conversation on the environmental (and science, finance, politics and anything else I find interesting), but the 140 character limit makes it hard to convey any more than a bullet point (I also accept it’s part of the service’s charm).

So this is a longer version of 100 tweets.

Anyone who feels the same way, please share, comment and distribute.

Anyone who disagrees, please comment too, and be prepared to justify your arguments with facts, data, evidence and logic.  If I fall foul of that standard, I’m happy to have it pointed out!

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