We’re one month into 2020 and temperatures are already far above the average for this time of year. In 2019 we watched in horror as wildfires engulfed the Amazon and a heat wave hit Europe, with temperatures rising to 46 degrees in some areas. Our governments thought they had been doing enough to contain deforestation in Latin America and that climate change would obligingly go away by its own volition. How wrong they were.
Now we are faced with another new nightmare and one equally as deadly. Australia has been on fire since September 2019 and is still continuing to struggle with these massive bushfires today. 18.6 million hectares of land have burned, habitats and homes lost, billions of animals have perished in the flames and 27 people have died. Clearing for animal agriculture and logging are just some of the causes, but the real catalyst is climate change. Months of severe drought and an extreme climate phenomenon made worse by a rise in greenhouse gas emissions have created a ‘mega blaze’ that will in turn become a large source of pollution and carbon emissions itself. We must remember that once a forest is lost, it is likely lost forever.
These fires happen because of our pursuit of short-term individual gain over long-term common good. What natural resources we have left should not be used as an exploitable opportunity. A very different approach is needed, one that values our planet as essential for the existence of life. Transitioning away from fossil fuels is a great start; however the reluctance of global leaders to take definitive and swift action is alarming.
The recent COP25 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid is a clear example this inaction. It fell short of any real pledges to address the gap between current targets and the predicted rise in global temperatures of 1.5C by 2040. What will it take for world leaders to finally stand up and take action?
The heartbreaking and terrifying images we’re seeing at the start of 2020 will not end with just one country unless we see a combined global effort coupled with a push to radically change our lifestyles. The record-breaking global heat waves we experienced last year are just the tip of the iceberg. With very little time left we cannot afford delays to the crucial decisions set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Thousands of scientists are warning us that time is running out. Even the general public get it. So why can’t our politicians? I think a member of the crowd was the voice of us all when he said to Australian PM Scott Morrison last month, "You're an idiot, mate".
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Fashion shows are not known to be the greatest examples of moderation and sustainability. A fleeting fifteen minute show in London or Paris in a spectacular venue is likely to involve thousands of international flights, tons of plastic, invitations, flowers, decor and flashing lights. Yet in the wake of the climate crisis, could 2020 be the dawn of an eco-revolution in the fashion industry?
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