Climate change is a topic that is often buried under different discussions. Brexit, junior doctors, the Olympics and Game of Thrones tend to push global warming into silence altogether. However, climate change is a global phenomenon that will affect us all and, in turn, which we can affect. So it makes sense that the Just Festival organised a conversation solely about climate change.
The panel consists of experts from both the scientific side of global warming and the humanitarian issues that accompany the environmental changes. They each introduce the topic from their field of expertise, from the water and sanitation crisis to the science of global warming. What is stressed throughout the panel is that climate change is a holistic problem: it is connected to everything from food, to politics, to the economy, to the way we think.
However, it is the interaction between the experts and the audience that brings out the most interesting points. After all, this is a conversation and not a lecture.
Firstly, the question of climate change and democracy is raised. Is it possible to make serious advancements in the defence of our ecosystems when the majority of voters do not see this as a priority? This brings more questions than answers. Yes, it would probably be more efficient in a totalitarian state, but should we sacrifice our democracy for environmental benefit?
Secondly, the audience and the panel debate over who should educate who about climate change. It is often thought that more economically stable Western countries should teach poorer countries their own infrastructure. But the richer countries give a bad example when it comes to their carbon footprint. Therefore, it is surely hypocritical to lecture other countries on their relationship with the environment. The audience suggests that wealthy Western countries such as Great Britain could learn something from the way nomadic communities in Africa interact with their natural surroundings. On the panel, Helen Anderson from WaterAid makes the point that we should be learning not only how to mitigate climate change, but also how to adapt to it.
The theme of education continues, including its limitations. While education is necessary to increase concern about global warming, it is not enough: we know that driving a car uses fossil fuels, we know that leaving the lights on wastes energy and we know that buying palm oil products contributes to deforestation. Yet most of us still do these things. We need more than education; we need a change of attitude.