Tuesday, 23 December 2008

At the dawn of 2009, just what do the future years hold?

The picture is of Salisbury Cathedral and the path you see I walked many times when at the theological college in the Cathedral Close.

I learnt a lot there, especially from my fellow students but also from the cathedral building because while the work of construction started in 1220 AD the 404 ft (123M) tall tower, the part that it is most famous for, was not completed until 1380AD. The designers of the building were fully aware that they would never see the completed work, just as the designers of the great gardens knew they would never see the 200 year old Oaks they envisaged in their planting schemes.

So where is the forward planning of the 20/21st Century? What legacy has been left for those who will follow in our footsteps in 800 years time?

The family that you descended from were working for the good of their families, their children, their grandchildren and for you, yes for you when Salisbury Cathedral was being built. That last part may seem a bit mind-blowing, but let’s face facts; if you have children and are concerned for their future and your (possible) grandchildren then you are concerned for the offspring of your grandchildren as well. You, like the designers of Salisbury Cathedral may never see the result of you efforts, but you know that as sure as eggs are eggs, there will be a result and that little old you, yes you, can influence the future NOW.

So, what will your descendents inherit from our age? Will there time be one of crisis with no energy from fossil fuels? Will it be a time when finding enough food is an everyday problem? Will Climate Chaos have damaged beyond hope the ability of this amazing creation know as The Earth to survive much longer? Will our future descendents survive to see the year 2900? We cannot forecast with any real accuracy the year 2900, but there are some things that we can forecast with accuracy long before then, in fact for most of us we know what will happen to creation in our children’s lifetimes, let alone our grandchildren’s.

We know that the island nation that is Tuvalu will be no more due to raised sea levels. In Australia we know that at the present rate life in Sidney will be totally changed by the heating effect of Global warming. In the US we know that Lake Mead, the lake created by Hoover Dam that provides water for 22 million people in the Southwest of the US as well as 90 % of Las Vegas' water could dry up by 2021 as the rains fail to materialise. We know that in Alaska, Canada, and Russia the melting of the permafrost and the release of trapped methane will influence life in those regions and beyond. We know that glaciers are retreating all over the world, and will cause water shortages to those regions that rely on melt water, for example, in Chile glacier melt will cause water shortages at the southern end of South America.

OK, so we all know that the problems are massive and that governments are far happier working for short term gain rather than planning for the long term but don’t blame them, because but that is actually partly our fault. If you want to be re-elected then you don’t talk in terms of centauries, you talk in terms of months. That’s why money is given to firms that produce cars no one wants. That’s why money is given to the banks that failed us all in the first place, which is rather like asking the burglar to come back and change the locks after breaking in and robbing you. Let’s face facts, its short term gain that matters to so many, not short term pain.

So, have there been any successes? Have our ‘little’ voices out in ether of Bloggerland been heard amid the noise and chaos of 2008...? Oh yes they have... and how! Just look at these few examples...

In Europe, German Chancellor Merkel scaled back her demands for loopholes that would have resulted in millions of tonnes of C02 emissions and handouts to heavy industry. This was due to the actions of more than 200,000 Avaaz members including over ten thousand in Germany, who emailed and participated in actions in Brussels and Poznan.

World Vision, one of the world's leading relief and development agencies works on a global basis with over 100 million people in nearly 100 countries in the struggle against poverty, hunger and injustice and has changed the lives of so many for the better with small donations from many.

In Canada, largely to the efforts of ForestEthics and its allies, the Ontario government committed to protect 55 million acres (more than 20 million hectares) of the northern Boreal Forest—an area half the size of California, or six times the size of Belgium from industrial development.

In the UK thanks to supporters of Friends of The Earth the UK Parliament was pursuaded, after a 3 and a half year campaign, to pass a law that commits the Government to deep cuts in the UK's emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Third World Microfinance charity Kiva, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, has now been enabled to make thousands of loans every week directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world due to the kind generosity of thousands of small lenders.

Thanks to the support of supporters, Greenpeace managed to prevent pro-GMO countries from wrecking an important December 2008 EU environment ministers' meeting on Genetically Modified Organisms and food safety. Over 70,000 messages were sent to EU politicians, including over 3,000 sent directly in 48 hours to the UK and German ministers.

Over 350,000 people have contributed to the supply of over 824,000 mosquito nets costing $5, £3 each and have now saved 1.5 million lives from the scourge of Malaria in Africa.

And so it goes on, hard fought for and won success after hard fought for and won success... but what about the future for the environment? Well there are problems ahead because for some areas of God's creation the tipping point has already been reached. The future will however eventually become brighter as long as we never give up and carry on emailing, supporting, blogging, pursuading, putting our concerns in front of the decision makers and leading by example.

There is certainly a massive amount of work to be done regarding the problems and challenges humanity is facing in safeguarding creation for the generations as yet unborn. Like the designers and builders of Salisbury Cathedral we may never see the full result of our efforts, but after a lot of hard work and effort the problems will eventually be overcome because, in the words of President Elect Obama, “We are the ones we have been waiting for”.

1 comment:

Margaret's Ramblings said...

Peter, when mankind built the great buildings and cathedrals in the past, they did it not for a weekly wage but because they believed in a power or ideal greater than themselves. I have to admit that I am jealous of your intimincy with Salisbury Cathedral as it was the first ever building that inspired me. My first visit when I arrived in the UK in 1995 overwhelmed me as I sat beside St Osmond's tomb (?). I hope your holidays are going well and you are taking it easy. I would imagine the week leading up to Christmas would be very busy. Margaret