David Attenborough‘s witness statement, A Life on Our Planet, is strong stuff. It always is from the 93-year-old TV veteran, but with his most recent documentary now available on Netflix, you can sense there’s an urgency to Attenborough’s message this time. He is serious – he’s almost desperate.
For many years now, we have known that overpopulation, consumerism and the exponential increase in CO2 emissions is damaging the planet we live on. The problem is, humans have become so greedy and so entitled that we have become set in our ways. Yes, we’ve put a 5p charge on plastic bags and try to avoid using plastic straws, but when it comes to deep-seated change, we are rigid in our ways.
Now, I am not of the opinion that normal individuals switching to a totally vegetarian diet is going to save the planet. It isn’t. Not when you have one hundred companies responsible for 71% of all of the world’s emissions.
Anyone who thinks that not eating meat will save the Amazon rainforest or automatically repopulate oragnutangs in Borneo is stupid and delusional. Yes, eating less meat will help, but that’s the thing: it’s less meat. Even Sir David Attenborough is not a strict vegetarian. It’s about our levels of consumption.
The problem is that companies are greedy and are making a hell of a lot of money from fossil fuels and from an unsustainable way of life. They are serious perpetrators of this climate crisis – and they must be where it begins.
Now, this is where COVID comes in. Right now, the UK government is facing not only a climate crisis (as is the rest of the world), but a job crisis. Since the beginning of lockdown, UK jobcentre claims rose by 126%. Mass unemployement is expected as the government winds down its furlough scheme.
What’s the plan? It’s flimsy. But it doesn’t have to be. Right now, we can seize an opportunity. We can choose to invest (which anyone who has ever studied history will know is usually the best way to get out of an economic crisis) in our future. What we need is green energy. Renewable energy. Solar panels, wind turbines, the lot.
These industries generate jobs. And they can generate jobs where we need them to – usually in the North East. If the government used COVID and the jobs crisis it is about to create, we can quite literally kill two birds with one stone. The jobs that green energy creates are worth investing in, not only because it will solve an immediate problem with a long-term solution, but because it will also help us act in a timely fashion when it comes to saving the planet.
We do not have long left. And if the government wasn’t so against helping people out, and dared to look a little further than the next election, we would be doing what is obvious right now. The solution to our problems is staring us right in the face. COVID has been a disaster – but it could be a route out of an even bigger one.