So, what do we do with the questions raised in Part One? Firstly, WAKE UP! There can never be a going back to a pre-COVID normal!
Given how serious and totally devastating are the consequences of getting it wrong, are we really prepared to take that risk? Will we glibly bury our heads in the sand and delude ourselves with the idea that ‘all will be well when we get back to normal’?
In my humble opinion, there are no options that will be comfortable, convenient or popular in the decades to come if we are to avoid disaster. But avoid it we can, if we stop for a moment and look at what is really happening around us. We must tell our leaders, employers, and especially politicians, to wake up and adopt the right priorities and make the right decisions, for all our sakes.
This will mean:
- Inconvenience – perhaps a lot!
- Discomfort – changing habits, routines, and even customs.
- Much more RRR – learning to conserve what we have now in all areas of our lives.
- To change our infrastructure to support expanding environmentally-friendly occupations and industries, especially in Energy and Food.
- To enforce existing laws to protect our environment, our future and filling the gaps where needed.
- Harnessing the capacity, enthusiasm and innovation of our youth who stand to lose most if we fail to encourage competent and trustworthy leadership at all levels of society and government.
At a recent Climate Crisis webinar (hosted by MNS to a mixed audience of students and adults), a wide range of steps were suggested as starting points, many of which could readily be adopted immediately by those younger listeners.
Others require major changes in priorities, pace and engagement by our society’s more senior and influential echelons.
The list included
1. Protect the Environment
a. Sign every petition you can in support of preventing environmentally-damaging projects and proposals (or get your parents to do so), as many are not vital, involve damage to forests and rivers that we can ill-afford, and create an unhealthy urban environment. There are plenty!
b. Do not waste water!
c. Push hard for an IMMEDIATE moratorium on deforestation of our rainforest – logging, mining and plantations (according to the latest UNFAO report, we have less than 15% natural rainforest remaining).
2. Reduce CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and Greenhouse Gases (GHG) at all sources
a. Protest against continued investment in and use of coal-burning power stations (nearly 90% of Malaysia’s power comes from coal-fired power stations).
b. Use the car less – save petrol money too (e.g. one shopping trip per week, car share school runs, switch off the engine when parked, walk to your local shop).
c. Use fans in place of AC, or try opening windows occasionally.
d. Eat less meat, and more fruit and veg (buy more local produce).
e. DO NOT waste food – take only what you can eat! (waste food in landfills is a major emitter of GHGs.).
3. Promote Renewable Energy
a. Replace lighting to LED.
b. Switch Off all electrical items when not in use (incl. Stand-by).
c. Move to Electric Vehicles (EVs).
d. Encourage installation of solar panels at home, at school, at work, in government institutions.
4. Adopt a Circular Economy and Lifestyle (‘Waste not, want not!’ is an old English saying simply not in use today in our throw-away world)
a. Adopt RRR (Recycle/Reuse/Replace) wherever you can; encourage it where you can – e.g. Batteries, plastics, cans, electronic devices etc.
b. Re-use or exchange clothes with friends (resist the ‘wear once and throw away’ habit).
c. Avoid synthetic materials if you can.
5. Champion Human Rights – they are your rights too!
a. Support Indigenous People – they have much to offer us today!
b. Create opportunities and show compassion for those less fortunate
6. Get Involved – Join a Conservation Group.
a. There is plenty of choices – and it is fun too! (MNS is clearly an option).
b. Form a club with like-minded friends.
c. Perform a Community Service (e.g. river or beach clean-up; food distribution; plant one tree each month).
d. Do you like a particular animal or environment? Sponsor it with time and/or money.
7. Share Knowledge, Wisdom, and Experience about Environmental Matters, and especially the Climate Emergency
a. Talk with friends outside of school about the issues, or about the fun things you can do ? while learning about challenges and finding solutions.
b. Talk with work colleagues too and perhaps arrange a presentation (ref the Climate Reality Project from this site).
c. Take walks in your local forests, especially with family (MCO permitting).
8. FIND, SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE THE RIGHT LEADERS
a. We really need Champions to lead the way to challenge the business, social and political practices that are threatening us today.
b. Do not hold back on asking others for a view or suggestions on issues that may interest you. We are around.
c. BECOME A CHAMPION!
9. BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION! It is your future after all.
Mother Nature created a magnificent home for us and for all life on the planet, and it is has evolved over 4.5 billion years into the stable yet constantly evolving entity that we know as our home planet, or as in this example, the Jenga tower.
If we considered the evolutionary timescale of Earth as a single 24-hour day, then a man appeared just 3 seconds ago.
However, in a short time of less than a century, man has so ‘lost his wisdom’ that he has plundered the resources of the planet and caused it to become dangerously unstable.
Will the removal of the next brick be the one that causes it all to collapse? Will that brick be another pandemic, a massive drought, sea-level rise, crop failure, monsoon failure, pestilence, ocean acidification? Ultimately, it will probably be down to mankind’s greed, self-indulgence and ignorance.
What do we have to do? Well, recovering the stability of nature’s tower will require all of us putting our hands on it from falling over while we try to rebuild it (always harder than taking bricks out).
This restoration process will be much more easily done if those whose activities are destabilising the tower cease doing so immediately – and if you do not know who they are – contact me.
Can you imagine the mayhem if we do not start there?
We have the best chance if we commit to this challenge together. We cannot do it if we remain distracted, disengaged, disunited and unwilling to change. While there are much being done, it is nowhere near enough to change our direction before we pass an irreversible tipping point.
Can We Do It? YES! BUT WE MUST ACT NOW!
In Malaysia, a good start is to demand a deforestation moratorium – logging, mining, and plantations. Contact your MP, or at least sign a petition. If those are not doable, then join a Conservation Group that can lobby on your behalf.
If you are not convinced by this article so far, then I urge you to watch David Attenborough’s latest documentary (released 4 June 2021) entitled Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet. It is currently on Netflix. – New Malaysia Herald
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.