On Sunday September 21, hundreds of thousands of people around the world gathered together in big cities and small towns. They marched together, held up signs, gave interviews to national and local press, and made their cause known all over social media.
Here in Chiang Mai, we met with a handful of other socially-minded people and did the same.
It was, in fact, one of the largest worldwide demonstrations to occur in modern history.
And what was it all about?
An issue that is now being referred to as the single greatest threat to human security. An issue that will continue to poison us if we don’t act, and an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long.
Around the world it’s clear to see that this is not some fictitious problem. It’s not some conspiracy that’s been dreamt up by mad scientists. It is the clear and present danger of our time.
More and more frequently, we are seeing devastating droughts, increases in both ocean and land temperatures, catastrophic weather events and the ongoing melting of icecaps which, according to scientific projections, should not be happening for many years yet.
Here in Thailand, climate change presents real, tangible threats.
As the biggest exporter of rice in the world, Thailand’s fertile coastal and rural areas have long provided extensive agricultural employment and income. The coast also hosts a huge tourism industry that contributes to the livelihoods of 10% of the population. Bangkok, the giant, vibrant capital, is one of the largest cities in the region, and is a social, political and economic center.
The Climate Institute predicts that within 20 years, rising sea levels, floods and increasing surface temperatures could combine to destroy Thailand’s rice crops and tourism trade, and to submerge Bangkok. Yes, submerge it - all those highrises and towers, underwater.
It’s obvious that these events would be absolutely devastating, with the capacity to seriously destabilise the political and economic position the country and the entire region.
An address to the UN this week suggested that the time has passed where individuals can halt the progress of climate change, that it was time that only industry and government could really make any serious inroads on the issue. That may well be the case on a large scale, but that doesn’t defer our responsibility.
Chances are that if you’re a Global Groove reader, you’re a conscious person. You think about where your purchases come from, and how your actions and behaviour impact your community and the environment.
So please, PLEASE - stay focused on what you can do for the Earth.
The Fair Trade community is doing its best to create sustainable, non-polluting business practices around the world.
Please join with us and do whatever you can: be it car-pooling or getting a bike, taking your own material shopping bags to the market, being proactive about recycling and upcycling, and teaching your kids and community members to do the same.
This is a crisis on a truly global scale, but if we all pull together and do what we can - and continue pressuring our governments to do the same - we can still turn this thing around.