Editor’s Note: Emma Thompson is a writer and actor from the UK. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion at CNN. Tune in for the CNN Democratic Presidential Candidate Town Hall: Climate Crisis, Wednesday, 5 PM to midnight.
We have weaponized our planet.
All over the world life forms are experiencing weather that attacks rather than sustains.
Unseasonal heat that kills, rain that instead of sweetening, inundates and destroys, hurricanes that devastate.
This is climate change.
We are in it. It is all around us and set to get worse.
Everything depends on what we do now.
Half of the man-made CO2 in the atmosphere was emitted in the last few decades – after scientists, governments and oil companies all knew where fossil fuels were taking us. Since Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth,” we have produced more emissions than ever before.
Warnings from scientists have gone unheeded by those who have the power to change course.
Billions have been spent on misinforming the public and on lying about the truth of our situation. Why? In order to protect the interests of the few who gain from the exploitation of the planet’s resources.
Now, after the five hottest years on record, as the Amazon burns and Greenland melts, the world is waking up to the fierce urgency of the climate emergency we have created.
Again, everything depends upon what we do now.
Incremental change is not enough.
Personal commitments, whilst vital, are not enough. We need to come together, talk to each other about our fears, and then act, and act collectively.
Big government and corporate power have to be harnessed. The US and China, the two most powerful nations and the ones that cause the most damage through their emissions, can lead the way. They will have to cooperate. This is a new politics – a system-change for nothing less than the survival of the planet and all life forms that exist upon it.
We are a planet-changing species, and that ability to control our environment can be used for good. It can replace the engines of pollution with clean machines and systems that can share our world with wildlife and wilderness.
We can use the power of the wind, the waves and the sun. Remember, no one ever fought a war over the wind. We can plant many more trees. Millions of them.
We can be smart and sensitive with the choices we make including for our food and the packaging we wrap it in. If we use more renewable energy, eat less meat and insulate our homes we can lighten our footprint on planet Earth.
We can begin to live with nature rather than declare war on it.
By doing that we will be healthier and happier.
Fifty years ago, before only a few knew what was going on in our atmosphere, we had already left it behind to leave our footprints on the moon. That’s what we’re capable of.
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But we only have one home, one place in the universe that can sustain human life, and it’s the Earth.
We wrote this story, and we are in charge of how it turns out.
Everything depends upon what we do now.