- It is said that most people are unaware of the climate crisis.
- A new survey conducted in India suggests this is untrue.
- By offering green alternatives, leaders can help to nudge people towards more sustainable behaviours.
Human beings have experienced an incredible period of development for more than a century. Global average life expectancy has increased from around 30 years in 1900 to more than 70 today. The global economy is around 80 times larger than it was in 1900. It has been a period for life-altering inventions and discoveries. There have been step changes in every industry - and many new industries have been spawned.
As we traversed this path of spectacular development, however, we took natural resources for granted. We believed there were more natural resources than we could use and that we could live in whatever manner we found convenient; ecosystem services such as clean water, clean air, pollination and soil fertility would not be compromised. The way in which we adopted new technology showed that we valued its conveniences much more than its consequences. It is also clear that we did not treat all people well all the time.
Consequently, we are now at a stage where we are many times more prosperous than a century ago, have a much higher chance of living a long life, enjoy marvellous opportunities in education, employment and enjoyment - and yet the olden days are still viewed with a golden hue.
Unintended consequences of the technologies invented and used by human beings include polluted air, water scarcity, polluted oceans, degraded soils and contaminated food. The fossil fuels that have given us energy and caused a revolution in mobility are now considered villains, as is the hitherto wonder material as plastic. The carbon that is emitted as result of humans’ modern lifestyles is causing the earth to become warmer much more rapidly than ever before.
The latest UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report states that greenhouse gas emissions grew at an average of 1.6% per year between 2008 and 2017. It further adds that with the policies currently in place, the world is heading for a 3.5°C temperature increase this century compared to pre-industrial levels. This is way above the 1.5°C rise that scientists believe will be a sustainable level for people on earth.
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