I’ve watched two very powerful TED videos in the last couple of days, both on the topic of climate change. I’d urge you to watch both:
Time lapse ice loss
Balog set up a huge project where cameras take time lapse images of specific glaciers, particularly in Greenland. The resulting movies show the loss of ice, at an ever increasing and unprecedented rate.
While I knew that glaciers gradually recede over time, I hadn’t realised that they actually deflate like a balloon. I’d always pictured the ice loss as simply moving the face back, but Balog’s videos clearly show the overall volume of the ice decreasing too. The glacier reduces height as well as length.
From time to time he superimposes graphs and images that show how the loss is accelerating.
A below zero swim
Ironically, perhaps, I was feeling a little chilly while watching the second video. I was sitting in my lounge, where the temperature was around 15° Celsius, and considering putting another jersey on.
ironically because the video I was watching showed Pugh, stripped down to his bathing trunks, plunging into the below zero waters at the North Pole and swimming for almost 20 minutes across the Pole itself.
Apart from some medical monitoring equipment, his Speedos and a bathing cap, he was unclothed. No wetsuit; no heated doo-dads, no special insulation.
I’m not really a fan of people doing bizarre and extreme things, but his lunatic actions were for a cause: he was swimming where there should be ice. Climate change has melted the ice at the North Pole. He and his team just sailed right up to the Pole, and his support crew travelled beside him in small dinghies as he swam.
A dangerous unbalance
The science is absolutely clear, the Earth’s climate is changing at a rate never before seen, and in response to human activity. This huge planet is dangerously unbalanced and we must change what we’re doing.
Huge as it is, it is a finely tuned system, where every element contributes its own small part to the overall well-being. As we poison the air, the oceans and the lands; as species go extinct and weather patterns change we are risking everything we hold dear.
And we all want someone to do something about it: businesses, Governments, nations. They are all responding painfully slowly.
But really we are the only ones who can do something about it.
One small thing
Do you know how to get a million dollars? You can get one person to give you a million; or you can get a million people to give you $1.
It usually feels way too hard to make major changes in our lives: trading in the gas-guzzling car for a bicycle just isn’t feasible for many people. Nor is joining some activist group and lobbying for others to take action.
But there is huge power in each individual doing a small thing. It may seem futile — as futile as one person giving one dollar — but collectively it has an impact.
It’s time to do something small for the planet:
- Turn the heater down a tad, and put on a jersey.
- Set the air conditioning to one degree warmer.
- Knock a minute off the duration of your shower.
- Eat a slightly smaller portion.
- Park a little further away from your destination and walk an extra block.
- Turn off the lights you don’t need.
- Plant something in the garden, or in a container on the windowsill.
- Buy one less piece of cheap junk that you don’t really want.
There are endless ideas for making tiny changes to how we live in our normal days.
Each thing we use has a cost for production and transport; it uses electricity and maybe water in its creation, requires factories that take space where birds used to breed, or stop over on their migrations. We’re using up trees, and oil, and minerals.
Governments are too slow; big businesses too invested in their profits. The only way we can make actual change is to do it ourselves, one tiny action at a time.
Blue Marble photo: The 2002 Blue Marble featured land surfaces, clouds, topography, and city lights at a maximum resolution of 1 kilometer per pixel. (NASA image by Robert Simmon and Reto Stöckli).
What will you do today to help sort out our only home in the universe?