I was born near the largest of the oil and gas refineries along the River Mersey. In my childhood, our family walked along the Mersey shore and I knew the refineries as magnificent but terrifying.
As a science teacher, I talked regularly about the possible futures of our world. Even when much of our environmental curriculum disappeared, I took groups up to the Peak District, to Snowdonia, the Wye Valley and seaside coasts too. I kept the environmental discourse going whenever I could.
Denial, doubt and delay
The book I read most frequently was Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, published 60 years ago, in 1962. The words I found most telling: “what we have to face is not an occasional dose of poison, which has accidentally got into some article of food, but a persistent and continuous poisoning of the whole human environment.”
The overarching theme of Silent Spring is the powerful, and often negative effect that humans have on the natural world.
There has been a great deal of anger, ignorance and hiding for decades. As a recent docuseries, The Power of Big Oil, explained how denial, doubt and delay have damaged our world. Scientists have known. Big business has known. Politicians have known.
Despite the massive amounts of methane from fracking and the deliberate increase of carbon dioxide, it feels like no leading politician in China nor India nor the UK is interested in climate change.
The danger is now
In our lives, there have been far more people (Trump and Johnson, to name just two) unwilling to admit the speed at which climate change is coming. But there are those like Al Gore, Barack Obama and David Attenborough who can see and understand the danger NOW.