Are My Grandkids More Important Than My Politics?

About the Writer: Retired from a career in hospital management, Dominic has been resident in Malaysia now for three years. From an early age, he has had a passion for nature. He recently trained as a Climate Reality Leader (part of US VP Al Gore’s campaign) raising awareness of the seriousness of the Climate Emergency and what we have to do to address it. He is committed to bringing a common sense perspective to issues that he believes need to be shared and debated.

By Dominic O’Sullivan

Seriously, just how precious ARE your grandchildren? How far would you be prepared to go to protect them from an imminent harm?? If you were on a ship that was sinking and there were not enough places in the lifeboat for you as well, would you unquestioningly put them first? Or if perhaps, they were ill, and the only thing that could save them was if you gave them your vital organs, would you make that sacrifice?

So, with the Climate Emergency threatening their very existence, what are you going to do?  Continue to play power games, chase status and money and influence, while knowing and ignoring the imminent threat to their very survival?

So Why Am I Asking Such Questions?

The explanation is simple. There is an instinctive reaction in all of us to protect those that we love. As parents, we felt it for our children. As grandparents, it may have mellowed with experience, but there is still, in most of us at least, an impulsive and all pervading response to react to any such threat. So, what if that threat is not so apparent? What if we cannot immediately see it, or feel it, or smell it?

‘Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

I was sitting on my settee in my apartment recently, and some of my neighbours had dropped by to see my wife. I brought a toy box from the store and their children were busily playing with the toys, laughing and joking. As I watched, I was filled with joy and gratitude. My own grandchildren, whom I love dearly, came to mind. For some reason, as I looked at them, I wondered if they would enjoy those feelings when they reached my age, and sat on their settees as grandparents, just like me, watching their grandchildren – my great great grandchildren.

Then it hit me. ‘Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!’. (See footnote)

They were blissfully unaware, but I was all too aware of the danger creeping up on us, like an odourless poisonous gas.


How Did We Ever Get Here?

In an earlier article, I described how we got to this sad state of affairs. Suffice it to say here that, as societies evolved, as civilisations came and went, we became more and more obsessed with self-indulgence and instant gratification, until we became so driven by greed, so plagued by ignorance, and so numbed by indifference and complacent at how clever we are, that we lost our wisdom. We have become blind to the fact that we are part of the web of life on this planet that nature created, and we have dismantled so much of that web that it has now become like a jenga tower; and we all surely know how that turns out

What Is This Danger?

Why, it is Climate Change of course! For decades, scientists have been warning that there were changes occurring around us that many cannot see or perceive. The undeniable evidence is everywhere, and the indications are disturbing. It tells us that we are killing our planet, as surely as night follows day. The sunset of mankind is racing towards us at such an accelerating pace that, unless we change our ways, those grandchildren I mentioned above may well be looking at the last generations of our misguided humanity.

I will say that again – those grandchildren I mentioned above may well be looking at the last generations of our misguided humanity!

Is It Really That Serious?

  • So far we have managed to:
    > exceed safe levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and are rapidly approaching a critical point after which recovery will perhaps be unachievable
  • > deplete the oceans of 90% of their fish stocks
    > destroy more than 55% of rainforests globally (probably less than 20% primary forest remains in Malaysia)
    > reduce 70% of wildlife in the last 40 years, with as many as 50% of all known species likely to become extinct before the end of this century
    > cause the cooling ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise, and vast coral reefs to die off
    > bring about massive disruption of climate, and more extreme weather patterns, which will soon lead to droughts, famines, mass migrations, resistance to mass migrations, pandemics and global public health threats, and even more challenges to Human Rights
  • How many more warning signs do we need?

  • So YES – it is that serious!

That Inconvenient Truth Has Arrived

In 2006, USVP Al Gore released his book An Inconvenient Truth. Sadly, we and our global leaders, paid little attention. Now, that Inconvenient Truth has arrived, and we are going to be seriously challenged to get through the next few decades.

Orang Utan Rescued from a Rubbish Tip, and Baby. Courtesy of Willie Smits.
<strong>You may not believe in Evolution and that is alright How we humans came to be how we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have created for ourselves<strong> Picture Orang Utan rescued from a rubbish tip and baby Courtesy of Willie Smits

Over the millennia, there have already been five mass extinctions, some brought on by extreme volcanic and climatic changes, some by extra-terrestrial impacts such as that which destroyed the dinosaurs. Until now, none has been brought about by a single species’ reckless destruction of their only home planet to meet their misguided ends.

The Sixth Global Extinction Event!

The sixth global extinction event is now imminent, and we have brought it upon ourselves. Even so, with Armageddon just around the corner, we are all guilty of ignoring the fact. Instead of calling a halt to our greed-driven obsession with immediate gratification and convenience, we continue to consume our already overdrawn natural resources and exacerbate our dire situation. And we do so at the cost of our grandchildren’s future. The brakes should already be full on, and reverse gear engaged. Yet, our leaders do not prioritse the survivial of our grandchildren.

At this stage, even planning a strategic budget is a wasted exercise if it does not prioritise addressing the Climate Emergency AND the Economy with at least equal determination – politically, socially, and environmentally.  But will our politicians and our leaders face up to that?  Until they do, they are serving us!

As Julia Roberts recounts, Mother Nature is not perturbed at the prospect of the demise of mankind. She (Mother Nature) has been here before, and she will be here after we are gone.

We Must Act Now!

Even if we all stopped polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases tomorrow (caused by our relentless and unconscionable consumption of fossil fuels, and compounded by environmental destruction), it would take decades before the worsening climatic conditions levelled off. In the meantime, we must all commit to changing our habits, our conveniences, our lifestyles, if we are to give our grandchildren any hope for a future.

Are we really prepared to take that risk?

If we delay any longer, it will be too late for us, and for them. The time to consider what we are all prepared to give up today, for their tomorrow is now. WE MUST ACT NOW!

We must tell our leaders and our politicians to Wake Up and adopt the right priorities, and make the right decisions, for all our sakes.

So, we are back to asking ourselves that opening question –Are Our Grandchildren More Important Than Our Politics?

Footnote: The phrase ‘Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!’ was used by a robot character in the sixties TV show called Lost In Space. He would give out this stark warning to his young space-traveller friend whenever an unforeseen danger was detected. – New Malaysia Herald

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