BW Businessworld

Don’t Let Denial Go Unchallenged, Speak Up: Lee-Alison Sibley On Global Warming

On the fifth day of the Women Economic Forum conference, Lee-Alison Sibley, a performing artist, social activist, author and lecturer took an extremely interesting lecture on “the environmental impact of climate change on poverty”

On the fifth day of the Women Economic Forum conference, where women from all spheres came to discuss different issues related to women empowerment, gender parity and other such issues, Lee-Alison Sibley, a performing artist, social activist, author and lecturer, who was trained in climate change by Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore himself, took an extremely interesting lecture on “the environmental impact of climate change on poverty”, which was attended by sustainability enthusiasts.

“I am an Earth Day representative and a climate reality leader,” said Sibley, adding that “climate change is the greatest threat to mankind”. “My generation did terrible things like use fossil fuels, aerosols, and unfortunately the next generations are going to have to pay for our mistakes,” she said adding that she really believes that “young people can turn this around”. “Our atmosphere is too thin right now to protect our fragile planet, the protective ozone layer is damaged, allowing UV rays to pass through, and greenhouse gases are trapped in the atmosphere, warming up the planet,” she added, alarmingly stating that “the energy trapped by man-made global warming pollution is now equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day”.

Sibley then went on to show a heat-map of the world from 1884 to 2013, which presented a vivid picture of the harsh impact of global temperature rising. “The Indian Meteorological Department says that 2016 was the hottest year in the history of India. The temperature reached 51 degree Celsius in Rajasthan, and over 700 people died just from heat, which is a low estimate,” she said, adding that the “rising sea levels are wiping out the shoreline in Tasmania, displacing thousands who live near the shore”.

Focusing on deforestation, she mentioned how mudslides caused due to deforestation devastate villages nearby, then bringing attention to the 2010 flood in Pakistan which affected 20 million people, and the 2013 drought in Maharashtra, both disasters a result of climate change. “At least 80 per cent of Guatemala’s corn crop was destroyed, which had a huge impact on poor people” Sibley said. She then brought attention to the war torn Syria, stating that “in 2006-2010, drought turned 60 per cent of Syria’s fertile land into a desert. By 2010 the drought had killed 80 per cent of the country’s cattle. Who is to say that the drought did not contribute to political instability in India?”

“Between 2010 and 2013, the Antarctic lost ice-sheets at the rate of 160 billion metric tons per year, twice as much between 2005 and 2010,” she added, listing the most populated coastal cities which are at risk with sea-level rise, which included Mumbai, Kolkata, Dhaka, Ho Chi Minh, Rangoon, Shanghai, Bangkok and Miami.

Moving to a positive note, she said “there is hope. We have solutions in hand. Renewable energy is on the rise with wind and solar energy being built 10 times the estimated rate. The more we build, the more the price will drop for consumers,” reciting the anecdotal success of Barefoot College in spreading the solar energy movement. With respect to the current political situation in USA with top leaders being global warming deniers, she added that “Don’t let denial go unchallenged. Speak up. Come up with true statistics and stories to spread the knowledge about climate change.”

Sibley then went on to enlist ways to reduce personal carbon footprint urged the audience to be a “knowledgeable consumer”. “In addition to your personal actions, changing laws are important,” she added complimenting the Paris agreement to be the first step towards legislative action. “Environment literacy is important. Share stories with your children which romanticize nature. Our generation messed up, make sure the next generations don’t,” said Sibley, ending the session, leaving the audience more aware and more cautious.

Top themes and market attention on: