Climate Change now
The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised – if emphasis were needed – the power of nature to impact profoundly upon human life. Like climate change, the virus cannot be bargained with or bought off. It is not susceptible to PR campaigns or influenced by social media. It follows a set of rules that we are free to ignore, but not to change.
Since the last Waterline conference we have learned more about the rules that climate change is following and the news is not good. The latest research has shown that the melting of the Antarctic ice cap is now irreversible, even if we keep to the maximum two degrees overall rise in temperatures set out in the Paris Agreement. The Arctic Sea is now predicted to be ice-free over summer by 2050 in all models. In some areas of the Arctic Circle the permafrost is melting 70 years ahead of predictions. The deepest waters of the oceans are warming more quickly than expected
All of these factors mean significant rises in sea level are inevitable during this century and they will have profound consequences for regions like the Humber. 90% of Hull lies below the present high tide mark and the challenges we will face will be considerable.
Waterline and Zero Carbon Humber
Initiatives like Waterline have never been more important or more urgently needed. The future of humanity rests on achieving a net zero carbon economy and getting there soon. Someone, somewhere has to take a lead and those of us in the region surrounding the River Humber are well placed to do so
In fact, that work has already begun. The Zero Carbon Humber campaign is headed by energy companies Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures along with the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and CATCH, a trade body for industrials in the region. Feasibility work is underway to show how pioneering carbon capture, usage and storage technology can make the Humber a net zero carbon economy while providing the foundation for the roll-out of low carbon hydrogen as a fuel for industry, power, heat and transport across the wider Yorkshire and North of England region.
Investment in wind energy continues unabated and Humber Gateway and Westermost Rough have been joined by Hornsea One, the world’s largest wind farm, with Hornsea Two under construction.
These large scale projects didn’t come out of nowhere. Research, innovation and development are key. There must be the means to facilitate the exchange of ideas and support new ventures. The Aura Innovation Centre at Bridgehead Business Park, Hessle, opened its doors last year, aiming to deliver ground-breaking low-carbon projects and kick-start new ideas by bringing together experts at the University of Hull with businesses in the Humber region and beyond.
Hull City Council has declared a Climate Emergency and is aiming to make the authority Carbon Neutral by 2030. Such local action is equally important in changing the wider community’s perceptions and last year, when Waterline was a physical conference, the Butterfly City project had a stall, distributing free foodplants for the Brimstone butterfly. It brought together many local groups, schools and individuals enabling them to make a positive difference to their environment
Earth 2050 began in 2016 with a recognition that many people especially those in urban environments – are divorced from the ecological systems that surround them and sustain all life on this planet. Its aim was to awaken that awareness and illuminate the destructive pressures on those systems. Pressures that result from the way we live our lives and the processes that support our technological civilisation.
It chose to do so through art: to pose the question “what will the world look like in 2050?” Some of the answers to that question have already been decided, but it still remains that the choices we make and the actions we take today and tomorrow will shape the final answer.
Wherever we find ourselves in 2050, how we have got there and the direction of travel will be equally as important. We must have decisively changed the course of our civilisation and for that to happen there must be a corresponding change in the way we relate to the living world around us – in our hearts and in our minds.
Art can help us to achieve that – to help us to look at our world in a new way – to our feelings and our approaches. There is much talk of “individual action” in the fight against climate change and environmental destruction, but the truth is we are a social animal – we evolved to live and solve our problems communally. The fragmentation of society works against our very natures
Art brings us together. In both its creation and its appreciation it acts as a focus. People and ideas mix, thoughts and feelings are shared. Connections are made. Hope is kindled.
Making a Difference
The task ahead of us can seem daunting, but we can ease those feelings of helplessness through individual actions. There are plenty of options and they can all contribute to reducing waste, environmental destruction, depletion of resources or greenhouse gas emission. I don’t think it would be helpful to begin a list of all the choices, however I will name the one I think is the most important.
It will only be through collective action that we can finally achieve the changes necessary.
I’d like to congratulate everybody who has taken part in the competition and all those who have facilitated it. I hope the earth2050 project continues to bring people together, open eyes and minds to the challenges our world faces and inspire creative and hope-filled responses to them.