‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’
The enormity of this quote given to us by the late Mahatma Gandhi, these powerfully focussed words, such a call to action, they make me question myself – am I doing something worthy of this great man’s epitaph?
For the purists:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. …
We need not wait to see what others do.”
M.K. Gandhi, 1913
We all have our heroes and Mahatma Gandhi is at the top of my list. I wonder, if he were with us now – what he would make of the world today, in the infancy of this new century swathed in the impacts of climate change?
So, what would my changes to the world be? I’d like to use resources more efficiently, I’d like to reduce my environmental impact in the way I do business. Working with mobile phones, I’d read an article about the amount of CO2 generated by mobile phones, I had no idea that they produced CO2 you only need to be on it for an hour a day over a year and bingo – you’ve created a tonne of CO2!
So how would getting rid of extra CO2 generated by mobile phones help the planet? Naturally, the Earth produces about 750 Gigatons of CO2 per year, nature has had millions of years to learn and has put systems in place to cope with that amount of naturally created CO2.
Humankind and its fossil fuel driven existence produces about 29 gigatons of fossil-fuel derived CO2, a seemingly miniscule amount, but the temperature rise is caused by the fact that the Earth can’t cope with the extra CO2 and its becoming cumulative. Most of the CO2 released is from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, is stored either in the atmosphere or in the oceans.
The oceans around us absorb more than 90% of the heat generated by human produced greenhouse gases. Temperatures have reached their highest, July 2016 was the hottest month on record around the globe in 137 years.
Since the late 19th century sea levels have risen 7 inches – faster than any rise over the last 5000 years. Sea levels are projected to rise a further 3 feet or more by the end of the 21st century. The melting of glaciers in the Andes, the Rockies, the Alps and the Himalayas, ice sheets at the edge of Antarctica and Greenland are all contributing to rising sea levels. So how does just 1.4 degrees over normal global temperature affect us? So, whose feeling it?
One of the first casualties of this environmental siege, was a tiny little rodent called the Bramble Cay Melomys, it lived on a tiny island in the Great Barrier reef just off the coast of Queensland. When man first saw these creatures, they were like leaves on trees in their abundance.
But as time marched on and sea levels rose around the island, this tiny little mammal was placed into a front row seat of anthropogenic climate-change driven sea level rise. About 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, with sea levels changing at different places at different times, the waters around the creature’s island were double the normal rise in sea levels. This meant that the Bramble Cays natural habitat land space was reduced by 97% in the space of 10 years.
Researchers from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, in their report, after an extensive search in 2014 for the Bramble Cay mammal, moved its status from endangered to extinct. It is officially the first mammal to be extinct due to man-made climate change. Sadly, in the same headlamps of the oncoming juggernaut of climate change, other creatures are likely to suffer from such distinct changes to our planetary biological systems.
‘Be the change that you want to see in the world’. So with every tonne of carbon dioxide that I help to remove from the atmosphere, I’m doing my bit to reduce my impact on the world, I sure hope that Mr Gandhi would be happy with that. .