Its definition is: to grow, develop, or be successful, and that must be what we all want to be in our own lives. In the coming decades it will be a word that we use constantly to describe what we want to achieve. However, it is our own actions that will signal if we are to thrive as human beings; everything that we do that impacts our environment and will dictate if we are to ever really thrive.
Reason One: If we do not tackle Climate Change, we will struggle to thrive as a civilisation. Space travel will not protect us.
I have not been blind or deaf to the warnings of the harm we are doing to our climate. I am, like so many, shocked that the oceans are becoming polluted with man-made plastic waste. I have heard countless climate change campaigners talk of the harm and how it will affect us in the future, but it had never quite sunk in until I read Bill Gates book “How To Avoid A Climate Disaster”.
Gates does a brilliant job of unpacking the issues and explaining how, if we don’t tackle the climate emergency, civilisation will simply find it harder and harder to thrive. The temperatures in parts of the world will exceed human tolerance, the weather patterns will make it hard to grow food, and it will become impossible to adequately safeguard our homes against flooding, freak storms and high winds.
So, we must start to look at how we can continue to thrive in the light of the growing threats of climate change. We must also get our priorities right. We often seem to think climate change just happens to others and not within our own communities. Thanks to erosion, many stretches of our own coastline and the communities who call them home, are in deep retreat. Significant areas of Cambridgeshire are now below sea level and, with the ice caps melting, water levels are rising. Much of the reclaimed and low-lying landscape of Britain is set to become flooded again!
To protect the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid patients, we locked down an entire nation. I could never have predicted such action outside a sci-fi movie before March 23rd, 2020. So let us, just for a moment, consider the impacts that we could face in just 30 years’ time if multiple environmental trends continue as they are.
Air quality and rising temperatures are already contributing to a rise in respiratory problems and skin cancer. Both are set to rise dramatically in the decades ahead if we, as a species, don’t insist on change today. Without that change, how will our sources of clean water endure? With spring water in some parts of the world already a distant memory, we cannot afford to see existing sources disappear. Developed nations depend more and more on energy-sapping air conditioning, which will further drain energy sources, and add to the harm experienced by those who could never afford such luxuries. The growing pressure on the NHS will quickly escalate and they will face terrible choices in terms of who gets treated and who does not. But, this won’t be a short-term problem; this will be a long-term pressure and will not just be solved by a vaccine.
My point is not arguing details: there are much cleverer people than I who can do that. But there are plenty of people who seem content to dismiss the threats arising from climate change to their dying day. Whilst a minority will sadly always claim that it is all a hoax, I think the rest of us need to start urgently asking ourselves: what do we need to do to enable us all to thrive? After all, governments don’t make things happen quickly at the best of times!
In 2050 I will be 86, should I be lucky enough to live that long. My son will be 43. I know that I want to be able to look back and reflect that I did everything I could do to enable my son and all those of his generation to thrive.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this do look out for my Reason Two coming up shortly…