Around 20 years ago, the hole in the ozone layer was one of the major issues of the time. While the ozone layer still isn’t in great shape, we averted disaster from that corner to some degree thanks to some decisive action.
According to this article on IPS, the scientific evidence regarding the dangers wasn’t all that definitive back then, but 24 nations still took a precautionary approach and ratified the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. We’re very lucky that happened.
I still remember all the debate about the issue – it’s very similar to what we’re seeing about climate change and carbon dioxide emissions today – particularly when it comes to the costs of making big changes.
However, if 20 years ago they decided it was all too hard or all too expensive, according to the article, the ozone layer would have been destroyed by 2050 and a three-minute exposure to the sun in Hawaii would have caused sunburn. Ecosystems around the world would have been seriously compromised. It’s all pretty scary stuff.
Again, bear in mind that back then the decision to take action was based on scant evidence.
Ozone depleting CFC refrigerants were replaced by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The problem is, these are also powerful greenhouse gases.
So, we find ourselves at a crossroads again after a quick fix that worked well is now working against us via another front.
But we’re at a point in time when, after years of debate now, countries are still arguing over who should be doing what in terms of greenhouse gas emissions – and the major issue is money. What’s changed between now and 20 years ago?
A couple of weeks ago, Wall Street threw a hissy fit and the government has jumped in with $700 billion to placate it – just like that. The mind boggles. As other countries fall prey to the financial fallout, their governments are bailing them out with big bucks too.
Economy is important, but without a healthy environment to sustain us, there can be no trade. Are we putting the horse before the cart?
Also, why is it that in times of war, we the people willingly give up creature comforts and even be subjected to rationing for the greater good without too much argument, yet we’re so resistant to make changes for the sake of the planet we stand on?
The threat of climate change is far greater than that posed by war.
Why are we so stuck on making the degree of efforts that we seem to so easily make in preparing to go into battle? This war we are facing is bigger than any war on terrorism.
It’s these things that I ponder. Since we seem to have lost some of the presence of mind we had 20 years ago when the ozone issue reared up, perhaps if climate change were personified, yet demonified like we do with our enemies during times of war, it might make a difference?
I give you Larry – The Demon Of Climate Change. (Apologies to all named Larry). There, climate change now has a name. Perhaps Larry isn’t the most fear inspiring name, but it’s a start.
“Turn off that light kids, you don’t want to feed Larry”.
“Help in the effort against Larry, plant a victory garden!”