Climate at ease
Published 30th September 2009 - 6 comments - 1458 views -
Slovakia’s biggest open-air music festival called Pohoda (Slovak for “ease”, “well-being”) had to be aborted this year because of bad weather conditions (what an euphemism…) and consequent tragic incident: a sudden thunderstorm and gale-force winds stroke the place on July 18 and, among other things, blew one of the tents, full of people, down. As the construction consisted mainly of thick metal bars, one man was killed and dozens seriously injured. The rest of more than 30 000 visitors were being evacuated calmly in the beginning and were fleeing in panic later on as other storms were approaching, abandoning their things and dodging from flying objects.
A few hours before this, organisers suspended programme in some other tents, warned people of the danger, and advised families with children to leave the place. They were prepared for “normal” storms, and visitors were not frightened of any “normal” storms that we have here in Slovakia. Nevertheless, what stroke our country that day was not “normal” or “common” for us at all. It was unexpected, unimaginable, and even sort of “not natural”. Now, as I am looking out of the window at the bright sun and the peaceful light-blue sky, I wonder whether people still remember that day, whether they are worried about how much worse it could be in a few years, whether they realise something wrong is happening with the climate, whether they realise this all is at least partially our fault…
I am afraid not all the people understand that something very serious is going on. Yes, world leaders are heading to Copenhagen for COP15, environmental bloggers, journalists, and scientists publish thousands of passionate words and strong arguments on specialised blogs or in such publications, and Greenpeace volunteers are arrested from time to time. But how about “common” people—I mean people who do not work with CO2 emissions charts and see them in their worst nightmares, who do not drink their morning coffee while browsing the internet for latest news about the ozone hole? There are millions of people not having enough knowledge in this field—for them CO2 is what we breathe out and what makes their carbonated soft drinks taste so good. And yes, they might have heard that the average temperature would increase by up to 2 °C. Do you think they know what this means? Maybe just less snow in winter or more opportunities to sunbath in summer (and higher probability of skin cancer, which they surely don’t realise)… Some of them might only see that while they got sacked and medicine they need is getting more and more expensive, “crazy” environmental activists keep complaining about dying polar bears and warmer summers.
The weather of July 18, 2009 in Slovakia (and lots of other countries) is surely not even the worst example of alarming state and direction of climate change, and definitely not the only one. Even during my relatively short life I have observed strange and distressing changes in weather—it has been getting more and more extreme, with increasing number of storms, floods, droughts… Some people in Slovakia tend to say in such cases that “the weather has gone crazy”. And then it gets “alright” again and everyone is happy and forgets about it—until it happens again. Like the weather were something we have no influence on, something being here, having its own brain, and doing what it pleases. Other people’s reaction is: “God has sent this all to punish us for our sins”. If so, there is no point doing anything for our planet, our environment, even for ourselves, because God will destroy all of it if we don’t stop “sinning”. But—how about making up our minds not to “sin” against our environment either?
People ought to be shown and understand what the consequences of carelessness, ignorance, lack of effort of all of us, and bad environmental politics can be. Environmental debates should move from small offices and specialised magazines into our everyday lives, into streets, schools, mass media, and discussions at the bus stop or over a cup of coffee. Instead of light-hearted films presenting women in white bikini (who seem completely happy about global warming) or catastrophic films showing us how terrible it would be if our city were attacked by King Kong or aliens, TV should show people real dangers lying ahead or already happening—either the ones coming slowly and looking innocent, like average temperature increase, or the ones striking us suddenly, like floods or fires. People need to know this is happening, even if not always right in their neighbourhood. Dealing with the worst fires in Australia’s history in mass media by stating number of victims and showing a few pictures of burning trees is just not enough. We cannot be satisfied with showing results or consequences only; we have to link them to causes, other influences, and possible precautions or actions against it. People shouldn’t think “this is natural”, “this sometimes happens”, and “what a sad think it is, but there is nothing to do with it, and thank God it has happened on the other side of the world”. How about showing relations between climate change and natural disasters? Or between our everyday actions and climate change? People ought to understand that climate change is a problem. It is a problem of all of us, not only of “the others”. And “crazy” environmental activists or our governments should not be the only ones to care about it. For if we don’t act, our problem will not be lack of finances to finish building our house but floods washing it away together with all we have; not high prices of medicine but impossibility to cure all the diseases. Preventing this is surely wiser and even easier.
Climate is not at ease. General acceptance and understanding and a will to change it should be the first step towards improvement.
About the author
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