Apathy to climate change

Food & climate change article written on the 01 Dec 2010

Photo: Ainhoa Goma/Oxfam

In 1992 the UNFCCC adopted a framework of action on climate change that stated its purpose was to reduce the concentration of greenhouses gases in a timeframe that would allow for ecosystems to adapt to climate change and to ensure food production is not threatened.

Close to nineteen years later, a set of binding targets has not been agreed to and the meetings over the next couple of weeks in Mexico are unlikely to produce any resounding outcomes. Food production is clearly being threatened with the Russian declaration to ban exports of wheat and other grains as a result of the drought and fires earlier this year. Evidence is also showing that more and more people are dying from climate change related incidences every year.

So why don’t we as citizens do more? Why don’t we demand more action? We proudly speak of the ANZACS and others who fought for the freedoms and lifestyles that we enjoy today, yet when these freedoms are threatened, when our lifestyles could be devastated by the impacts of climate change – we sit on the sidelines and effectively let it happen.

Australia is a country in which we have a right to protests, a right to make our voices heard with no genuine fear of repercussion – yet still so often we don’t. I am not sure if it is because the realities of climate change are not as obvious to us as they are to the 20 million people affected by the Pakistan floods earlier in the year, or to those who have seen their homes destroyed in the Pacific Islands or if it is because protesting is a time consuming activity which many of us see as being the domain of jobless radicals who have nothing better to do.

But what I do know is that climate change threatens our lifestyle by threatening our coastlines, the Great Barrier Reef and the ability of our farmers to produce affordable food. The Australian government has acted as a genuine blocker of progress in the international agreements for the last nineteen years.

Clearly time for action is running out. We as citizens need to make sure that our governments know that this is simply not good enough and that we are demanding action on climate change.