Andrew Dickens: Why I've given up on saving the world

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 10 December 2018, 1:13p.m.
Emissions have reached a record high - how can we save the world now? (Photo / 123RF)

Well today I bought a reusable takeaway coffee cup from my regular café.

So I’ve had a routine this year. Around 8.30 I wander to the local café.  I buy a takeaway cappuccino.  I sit down outside and check my emails.  That’s because there’s a Spark phone box right next door which means I get free Wi-Fi.

The café is also just 50 metres from a bus stop.  So I can then hop onto a bus. Checking my mobile app I know exactly when the bus arrives. Then just after 9 I walk into the office.

I know.  I’ve chosen to live a council traffic planner’s wet dream in 2018.  But to be perfectly honest, it works.  My transport costs $3.50 a day.  No parking charges and my car is safe at home, keeping its mileage low.

So today the guy in the café offered me a keep cup for 12 bucks with a free first coffee.  The cup looks just like their regular takeaway cups but you can put it in the dishwasher.

Now I’ve resisted the keep cups.  I don’t know why but I have.  But the guy in the café said to me that he reckons I’ve probably used 200 cups this year and he asked me to visualise the pile of cups and where are they now?

So I got a keep cup.  Which now joins the jute bags I used for supermarket shopping. As I said to Pat, I’m not going to save the world.  And he said to me you have made it just a little bit better.

I say all this as the climate change conference in Poland falls apart.  The conference is designed to create processes for reporting as the world strives to reach the goals set in the Paris climate accords. It’s not happening.

After celebrating the news that emissions had decreased for two years in a row, it has been revealed that emissions this year are up 2.7 per cent to a record high.  There’s a nearly five percent growth of emissions in China and more than six percent in India, along with growth in many other nations. Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent.  The EU bucks the trend with a one per cent decrease.

Another report names and shames Australia as the worst country in terms of action on emissions and pollution.

In Poland, rich and poor countries are complaining about the sacrifices they’re being forced to make. Meanwhile liberal media is full of ferocious op-eds that the world is going to hell in a handcart.

Let's face facts. For all the brave words over the past five years, the world is in fact getting worse.

Now if you’ve listened to me this year you’ll know that I believe all the people who rail against pollution because of the possibility of climate change have dumbed the argument down to a level which means we have two implacably opposed sides.  Those who believe and those who don’t.

You’ll also know I have lived in countries where the air quality is so bad I have struggled to breathe which can’t be good. So I want a cleaner world.

But I’ve given up hope that there will be a broad worldwide consensus to make the human world cleaner.  There are 7 and a half billion people on this planet who are still more concerned about their own comfort and not the long term consequences of our consumption.

It’s like the fable of the grasshopper and the ant and this world is full of grasshoppers.

But today I bought a keep cup.  It won’t change the world but it will help.

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