Sinking States: Climate Change and the Pacific
Rising sea levels threaten the very existence of the world’s island nations, including some of the most romantic places on earth, such as Maldives and more 1,500 islands of Indonesia.
While big countries like the USA, Australia and China twiddle their thumbs over reducing fossil fuel energy consumption, the world’s island nations are preparing for a future in which they will cease to exist.
A transition toward renewable energy sources, namely wind, water and solar power, requires political will and ethical prioritizing. In 2011, global investment in renewable energy overtook investment in fossil fuels for the first time, and hit $228 billion in 2012; the market is expected to account for 25 percent of all energy generation by 2018. Still, in 2012, global fossil fuel subsidies totaled $544 billion, while renewable energy sources got just $101 billion in government support. Last month, CO2 levels in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human history. This means we are fast approaching our “acceptable” threshold; it’s not too late to put a cap on climate change but concrete action is needed now.
Author and journalist, Naomi Klein, articulated the underlying challenges of concrete action perceptively in a recent article. She wrote that climate change “entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.” Klein points out that this mistiming deeply affects our ability to decisively act. Addressing climate change requires collective, prudent action, action that goes against the grain of shortsighted, self-serving capitalism. “It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behaviour in order to protect life on earth. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions, just when they most need to be fortified and reimagined.”
The article also details the “willful ignorance,” as one critic puts it, of the conservatives currently in power in Australia. The Abbott government is doing what America’s TPGOP would like to do: stymie scientific studies and deny global warming to benefit the fossil fuel industry’s profiteering.