jueves, 22 de abril de 2021

World Earth Day 2021: WE ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH!

World Earth Day is celebrated as every year on April 22 to raise awareness about the environmental problems that our planet earth suffers. But just one day a year, neither the great efforts that have been made so far, nor the thousands of voices raised on this serious issue have been enough to change the pattern of destruction that we continue to see.

Global warming, CO2 emissions, the pollution of our oceans due to the number of plastics and polluted river springs, excess garbage, the lack of recycling and reuse possibilities -as well as the lack of education on the subject-, the lack of civility and the poor citizen conscience of the inhabitants of the planet, are part of the problem. The list can go on, and on, and on… But the reality is, as the movement called Global Citizen says, Global Citizen, climate change and environmental degradation threaten ecosystems, animals, and human livelihoods, being the most vulnerable people living in poverty. From plastic pollution to extreme weather events, environmental challenges persist and the world -our planet Earth- suffers as a result. We are not doing enough.

And why is it that after so many years, so many efforts and programs, so many people dedicated to making known the problems that global warming and environmental pollution are causing, has nothing changed?; What has happened to the messages from Bill Gates, Al Gore, Gretha Thunberg, Ban Ki Moon, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, and so many others that seems do not reach a greater number of people and, therefore, are not enough? Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary-General, recently said that “Continued economic growth and global poverty reduction are possible despite these daunting challenges, but only if societies invest much more in adaptation,” and urged world leaders, businesses, and citizens to invest in adaptation to ensure that all communities can withstand extreme weather events, but again, this is not enough.

Adaptation: maybe this is the magic approach. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate adaptation refers to “adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems in response to actual or expected climate stimuli and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate the potential damages or to benefit from the opportunities associated with climate change. In simple terms, countries and communities must develop an adaptation solution and implement actions to respond to the impacts of climate change that are already occurring, as well as prepare for future impacts.” [1]

But there is no "one-size-fits-all": adaptation can range from building flood defenses, establishing early warning systems for cyclones, and switching to drought-resistant crops, to redesigning communication systems, business operations and government policies. But overly ambitious actions and plans will be needed to profitably and quickly manage the number of investments required, as well as the risks to be faced, both now and in the future. Again, what we are doing is Not Enough.

Storms, floods, and waves of cold or heat are becoming more frequent, drastic, and dangerous all over the world; just in the month of February more than half of the US had freezing temperatures reaching -10 or -15 Fahrenheit Degrees, followed by days of close to 100 degrees to be followed by hail in several parts of the southwest. This is a clear example of the global warming issues. Also, as we know, people living in poverty are increasingly at risk of suffering the consequences of an environmental catastrophe. Moving towards a more sustainable and resilient future requires a greater collaborative effort between countries and sectors, between companies and society. But what is done, what ideas and initiatives are carried out, depends on each one of us. The plans are not made alone, they require the active participation of people. But it seems that there are not enough committed people either.

TIME magazine in its September 12, 2019, published an interesting article about entrepreneurial and empowered women around the world who are raising their voices and leading the fight against climate change. I invite you to read this interesting article so that we can continue to see what is being done today: TIME: Meet 15 Women Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

The TED organization, for its part, in October 2020 launched a new idea, a global initiative called TED Countdown to defend and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into actions. I had the opportunity to organize the first TED Countdown held in Caracas, Venezuela with speakers from Venezuela, Panama, and Spain, who spoke to us about the subject, which is worrying for so many of us. But like everything, it requires action and education. TED Countdown continues to promote these and many other initiatives that you can read at this link: TED Countdown: for a better future

We must do a better job of stopping global warming. "Five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the world is still far from meeting its climate goals," said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program. The report released by the UN in 2020 is a vivid reminder that we are a long way from avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

Humans have already caused major climate change, and we have set more changes in motion. Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to occur for several more decades. That is because the planet (the oceans, for example) takes a long time to respond, and because carbon dioxide, the predominant heat-trapping gas, stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. There is a time lag between what we do and when we feel it. But it may not be too late to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change.

Responding to climate change will involve a two-tiered approach: 1) "mitigation": reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; and 2) “adaptation”: learning to live and adapt to climate change that has already started. Climate change is a truly global and a complex problem with economic, social, political, and moral ramifications; its solutions will require both a globally coordinated response (such as international policies and agreements between countries) and a local one, such as efforts at the city and regional level (for example, improvements in public transport, improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable urban planning, etc.). What happens next is up to us.

In an interesting article by Art Markman published October 11, 2018 in the Harvard Business Review[2] and titled Why People Are Not Motivated to Address Climate Change, the author indicated that people are often highly motivated to avoid threats, but only if they see or feel them. In this sense, why is it so difficult to get people to act on climate change? People should be motivated to avoid threats to their existence, but unfortunately, climate change involves a combination of factors that make it difficult for people to motivate themselves. Markman points out first, that acting on climate change represents a compromise between short-term and long-term benefits, which is the hardest compromise for people to make. Secondly, he indicates that climate change is a non-linear problem and that it is therefore more difficult to understand. Third, many effects of climate change are or seem far from most people, which makes it hard to grasp. And finally, the future is always more uncertain than the present. And all these factors together are working against us to understand the true impact that climate change has today and what it will have in the not-too-distant future. Again, we already know the answer, we have not done enough.

But maybe all is not lost. There are many initiatives underway; we just must look for them. There is a large number of NGOs working on the issue; we just must connect with what they do. There are a lot of ideas that come up every day; we just must own them. Whether we are trying to get involved in more activities that reduce the impact on the climate or trying to convince others to act, there are some things that can be done.

In short, we must look for and join initiatives, connect with the people who are working on it and own the ideas that could have an impact on climate change.

Consider the probability that global climate change is real; that the future of our children and grandchildren may be different. Let us ask ourselves how taking climate change seriously is different; let us consider what we would be willing to give up today knowing that in a generation there will be serious and catastrophic consequences due to inaction. Let us start a serious discussion about values ​​among colleagues. And let us decide to know and promote more about the environment.

As customers, employees, and shareholders we must urge companies and governments to do more on climate change. And as members of society, we must drive the changes that are necessary and involve our communities in this crucial issue. Michael E. Mann, in his article Everyone Faces Choices Every Day That Has a Climate Cost for TIME Magazine[3], wrote that "lifestyle changes are not enough to save the planet."

We are running out of time. As Ban Ki Moon said, "we don't have plan B because we don't have planet B." Let us make this World Earth Day, in this 2021, living in a pandemic and with a planet that does not resist any more abuse, be the day when all together, as a great community, we commit to having a better world. Our children, grandchildren and the future of the planet will thank us.

Luis Vicente García


[1] What do adaptation to climate change and climate resilience mean? United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) In https://unfccc.int/topics/adaptation-and-resilience/the-big-picture/what-do-adaptation-to-climate-change-and-climate-resilience-mean

[2] Markman, Art:  Why People Aren’t Motivated to Address Climate Change, Harvard Business Review.  October 11, 2018. https://hbr.org/2018/10/why-people-arent-motivated-to-address-climate-change Sustainability

[3] Mann, Michael E. Lifestyle Changes Aren’t Enough to Save the Planet. Here’s What Could. Climate 2019. TIME 2050: THE FIGHT FOR EARTH: https://time.com/5669071/lifestyle-changes-climate-change/


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