By Joanna Lancashire
The COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change has commenced in Paris. The world – its leaders and its future leaders – are now facing complex questions about the future of the planet that we call home.
Environmental politics have been overlooked for the past decades, but have begun to rise to the forefront of world affairs in the face of damning evidence of the impact of the human environment on the natural. Ten years ago the rhetoric was of global warming; today it is sinking islands and unpredictable climate patterns. Removing the question of whether climate change is a man-made phenomenon (still a hotly debated subject), the impact of human industry and activity on our water supplies, our soil, the food we consume and the air we breathe is backed up by irrefutable evidence.
Reaching a political solution will undoubtedly be dependent on fundamentally changing the way we live our lives. This is not an easy goal. The world has not reached consensus on the nature of the potential and social crisis that we face. The full evidence of environmental impacts has not been uncovered. One thing is clear: amongst a dialogue of emissions targets, pollution, rising sea levels, adaptive infrastructure and an encroaching environment; if there is a crisis to face, we face it together.
What is the cause? Who is responsible? How are we to cope and adapt with an ever-changing planet? What can we as citizens and individuals do to confront this problem? In the face of a rapidly changing situation and its potential effects, these are questions the world now has no choice but to confront.
Here at Sciences Po, outside the arena of political affairs, we can for now confront only a few of these issues. The question of responsibility has only one answer, whether you are a climate skeptic, avid environmentalist, or merely an average person.
Well, it’s our Earth, right?