Zac Macaulay, MMIXI get to do some strange things working for Oxfam. On Wednesday night I watched as an average family — mom, dad and son — sat around with their dinners on their laps staring at the TV. Glasses of soft drinks and wine sat on the lounge table with the bowl of fruit.
Then the bananas decided to float off and a turtle swam past.
The setting for this surreal scene was the Sea Life Aquarium on London’s South Bank. We were there to mark the fact that we’re now 100 days away from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, arguably one of the most important meetings in human history.
At this meeting, world leaders need to agree to a fair and safe deal that prevents catastrophic climate change. For this to happen, we need Western leaders to accept their country’s historic responsibility for climate change and to do two things.
First, they have to take a lead in agreeing to slash carbon emissions by 40% by 2020. And second, they need to earmark $150 billion a year to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their own emissions. Poor countries are already feeling the effects of climate change, but without a deal this December, fifty years of development gains will be lost.
At present, sea levels are predicted to rise anywhere from five meters upwards over the next couple of centuries. The most conservative estimates would wipe out most coastal cities — including London — and would change much of human life dramatically.
To make these very serious points, Oxfam, as part of the TckTckTck alliance, assembled a living room — complete with furniture — in an aquatic tank full of stingrays, turtles and sharks. We then had three people — the “family” — scuba dive down while assembled media took pictures and filmed the scene. This was possibly the quirkiest depiction I’ve ever seen of a future potential apocalypse.
The point, however, is that we’re far from doom and gloom. We’ve got 100 days left before Copenhagen and in that time we all must do out part to ensure our leaders do everything they can to make the right deal. In the UK there will be fierce lobbying, petitions, and a huge demonstration where a “blue wave” of people will descend on London.
A lot can be achieved in 100 days. But we must make sure our leaders understand Copenhagen is our big chance to save the planet and the people who live on it.