‘We need to talk about our future, because I want there to be one’ by Mary-Cindy Okafor

Mary-Cindy Okafor (17 of St Paul’s Catholic School, Milton Keynes, came joint third in the Columban Young Journalists Competition 2019 (print) for her article on Climate Change.

Mary-Cindy Okafor.
Mary-Cindy Okafor.

 We need to talk about our future because I want there to be one. We need to talk about our Earth because when the next generation comes I don’t want to have to tell them stories about how beautiful mother Earth once was. Of the beauty of nature, chirping of birds from sites unseen; how ravishingly blue the sky had been, crystal clear the sea was. That she had sheltered us, fed us, gave us air to breathe. How everything had been so simply perfectly interconnected. The silent sounds of the river stream rushing were her bloodstream. The wind with the trees in the magnificent immeasurable forests were her lungs, purifying the air. Everything was placed precisely in their designated places.

That this is all gone. The greedy lust of humans’ need for more and more had left us and every generation to come, so little till we were left with nothing at all. Nothing but destruction. Destruction as far as the eyes can see. Destruction of man. Men like you and me.

Climate change is not something that has only just popped up in the news. The problem isn’t that we have never heard of it because we have. The problem is that some of us are choosing to ignore it. Climate change is about large-scale, long-term changes to the Earth’s climate. This won’t just go away, it puts our common home, Earth, under threat. Coming for the things we love and cherish, our health, our homes, our sports fields and our places of pilgrimage where we reflect. It can be seen in increased flooding, droughts and more unpredictable weather. It is changing the seasons, changing places, changing people’s lives.

It hits us all, yet the 423 million people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are the people that have made the least damage to Earth to cause it, already living in extreme poverty. 26 of the 30 countries most vulnerable are least developed countries (LDCs). Most people living in these countries have no financial or social safety net, trapped in poverty. Meanwhile, the rich and more fortunate refuse to acknowledge and slow their consuming and wasting, leaving a trial of waste. This isn’t how it was meant to be. God told us to take care of our home, and we still can.

We can all play a part in creating a better world. It’s in fact a crucial part of our faith. Acting on climate change is about loving our neighbours, justice for the poor, generously sharing the limited resources that have been given to us. With our voices and our social media platforms, let’s not starve ourselves of knowledge when we are drowning in information.
Let’s raise awareness so we no longer have to protect the environment. Instead let us create a world where the environment doesn’t need protecting.

Gandhi once said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” which is indeed true. The world’s resources are more than enough to meet our needs but are in short supply to satisfy every human self-centred desire…. a fact you would think we would all be aware of. Yet we constantly produce tons of degradable & non-degradable wastes and throw them where ever we please. The soil would have once been pure and full of life but wastes like plastics, pesticides, chemical fertilisers etc degrade its soil quality. Agricultural chemicals kill soil microorganisms – all that could be left is barren sand.

Disposal of dirty sewage and chemicals has been done impulsively, leaving our oceans filled with thick oil crude. The sea was once clear but now it’s choking with our waste. The water pollution that we have caused will increase the risk of water-borne diseases like cholera, cause the extinction of many animals. Chances of water being expensive in the
near future will come sooner than we thought. We should not be so willing to risk this. There are alternatives to oil and gas but no alternative to water. Water is important for survival.

Destruction of forests for agriculture and settlement will affect the environment and our lives. We are filling Earth’s air with smoke and gas, but only killing ourselves with the lack of fresh air to breathe. The increasing exposure to harmful UV rays of the sun could lead us to various unwanted skin diseases and even cancer. This would be because of the
depletion of our ozone layer from gases emitted by industries and vehicles.

What needs to be done. What we need to do is to raise our white flags and surrender. We can appeal to the government to bring in eco-friendly development policies and proper planning of cities. We can work towards reducing our own carbon footprint through eco-friendly activities. We must raise awareness and protect the gift of home that we were given…. to save it now because our Earth is dying, and it will affect us all. Save it now because it’s the only Earth we have. There is no backup Earth we can move to. There has only ever been one, there will always be one. We need to save it now because no matter how much damage that has been made the fact still stands, it’s better to do something now than never. If we can make a difference now we can change our future forever. If it can’t be reduced, reused, rebuilt, refurbished, resold, recycled then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed. If we can’t fix let’s not break it. It’s time to clean up our mess.

It’s time we made difference. A change is an improvement, if we take care of mother Earth, mother Earth will take care of us. It’s time we talked about our future because it’s our responsibility to make sure there is one. It’s time we talked about Earth because we all need her.