Editorial: Your earth, take action

“Adversity tends to empower demagogues with easy answers, and climate change will bring plenty of adversity.” Remember this warning, from American climate scientist Dr Kate Marvel.

That country’s government had quietly tried to release a report detailing the effects of climate change. Thanks to the demagogue in power, climate denial is institutionalised. Marvel was doing her best to get media to cover the findings of the Fourth National Climate Assessment report. Predictably, outlets such as CNN quoted people who said climate change isn’t real without providing evidence for this.

This is not unique. Most of us either deny that climate change is happening or don’t think it will affect us. We like to think it’s a problem out there, and someone else must handle it. But, like the American report, all evidence says our civilisation is going to collapse if we don’t stop the world warming up.

Yes, collapse. Change is happening at such a rate that animals, plants and ecosystems cannot evolve fast enough to survive. This affects economies and our survival.

In Poland this week, governments are meeting to discuss the logistics of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Little progress is being made. Also this week, the Global Carbon Budget 2018 report came out, which says that carbon emissions this year are the highest of all time.

Our own government pays lip service to the environment, and to tackling climate change. The president has shuffled a minister who should be in jail off to the environmental department. Politics trumps our future.

Remember Marvel’s quote. If we don’t do anything, the world will become ever more complex. Duterte in the Philippines, Trump in the United States, Orbán in Hungary and Bolsonaro in Brazil won’t be anomalies.

This is your country. Your planet. It needs you to act.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

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