When I first heard him talk, I couldn’t stop crying. He was factual, emotionless. His words couldn’t have been clearer. Yet my brain, which evolved to prepare me for surviving the next winter at best, just couldn’t grasp what he was saying.
Dr. Peter Carter of the Climate Emergency Institute, an expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is just one of many to repeat the message that we’re all trying to escape in our daily lives:
Our ways of living impose an immediate threat to most climatic and ecological systems, the animals that we love and to mankind. We saw it this summer, with at least 30 climate-related records breaking around the globe – even here in Israel.
As long as we continue to over-exploit the Earth’s resources, we are shifting the systems on which we desperately depend on to tipping points beyond which our children’s lives will turn into living hell. And all this could happen within our lifetime.
Our brains cannot compute this.
We deny or ignore it at best, but our mistreatment of nature comes with an inevitable price. Disregarding this will only make things worse.
My name is Carmel, I’m 30 years old, I live in Haifa, and I’m one of the founders of the Climate-Ecological Emergency Headquarters.
As concerned citizens who listen to top climate scientists, we realized that wishful thinking won’t close the immense gap between current climate plans and what actually needs to be done to save our future.
This notion could be summed up in author Robert Swan’s excellent quote:
“The greatest threat to our planet, is the belief that someone else will save it.”
You see, because our current lifestyles and systems are so unsustainable, successfully implementing environmental emergency changes (like the doughnut economy) will not only help in the fight against climate change – it will also tackle some of humanity’s biggest problems, from poverty to health issues, crony capitalism and more.
We need to make these choices now, because our time is running out.
Not to mention the benefits and values of incorporating these changes on a personal level – from saving money to finding meaning, feeling part of something greater and a sense of great satisfaction – which are all side benefits of doing the right thing.
Last weekend’s protest in Jerusalem was only the first, and is set to continually grow.
TO MAKE things more practical, we came up with three demands from the government:
1. Declare an ecological and climate emergency, before it is too late to stop it, and not afterward.
2. Develop a serious and ambitious emergency plan that considers the carbon budget and the planetary boundaries, as well as emissions from imported products.
3. Bring these issues to the top of the public agenda and awareness (the majority of people don’t even know what we are talking about).
To do this, we ask for the support of every movement, organization and individual that cares for the future of our world.
Our role is not to interfere with the important work of others, but to strengthen, support, and focus it on the targets that we set, so that we will all benefit from the collaboration.
A beautiful example of this was seen last weekend, in the protests against the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company for fossil fuel, when we brought people to support this cause, and they to back ours. Working together and supporting our common goals is essential.
The emergency protests are only one of a few channels we’re working on simultaneously. Any one of you could help tremendously.
I believe that people are slowly beginning to understand our motives, and so in just two weeks, we received the support of over 30 different organizations.
But we’re just warming up.
When the UN urges all countries to declare an emergency, and the EU as well as 2,025 jurisdictions in 35 countries already declared an emergency (with some impressive plans from places like Glasgow or Copenhagen) – one begins to wonder why we keep procrastinating.
Of course, declaring an emergency alone is not binding enough, but combining it with our other two targets will ensure that the issue will be dealt with the seriousness that it deserves.
All in all, the climate and ecological emergency requires major changes in all aspects of our lives, from the economy to agriculture, education and health. And if we all do our bit, join forces and focus not on what we can not but rather on what we can do – we can turn this around.
Hope is our greatest strength, our greatest motive.
Let’s not let it go to waste.
For, when our children ask us in the unknown future, if we did everything that we could to ensure they inherit the same beautiful world that we got – we’ll answer yes. We did all that we could.
And that will make all the difference.
The writer is an animator who creates environmental art that educates and inspires people to take climate action.