A well-respected philosopher and Green campaigner will be visiting Newcastle in the New Year to deliver a hard-hitting talk on the future of humanity. He will argue that society has been in denial about how extreme the global climate crisis and large-scale species extinctions have become and how the issue has been generally disregarded by the media.
Rupert Read, founder of the Green House think tank and academic at the University of East Anglia, will be giving a lecture on the 3rd of January 2019 at the Brunswick Methodist Hall in Newcastle City Centre. In his talk he will argue that, given the real dangers threatening human civilisation and life on Earth, the big political issues of the day (such as Brexit) are an unwelcome distraction.
The event is spurred by an increasing sense of urgency following the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this autumn, which warned humanity has just 12 years left to take emergency action in order to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown due to global warming greater than 1.5°C. Above this, the risks to humanity from floods, droughts, extreme heat and growing poverty become much greater, with far worse impacts in the UK and on hundreds of millions more people across the globe.
“At present, the world is on course for 3°C of warming – this will be catastrophic for humanity”, warns Read.
Scientists globally are also warning of 'ecological Armageddon' due to species extinctions, which will be exacerbated by climate breakdown. This year saw shocking reports of a dramatic plunge in insect numbers, with abundance of flying insects plummeting by three-quarters over the past 25 years. TV programmes such as the BBC’s Drowning in Plastic have brought home the worsening plastic pollution crisis that is destroying ocean wildlife. Growing large-scale industrial agriculture is wiping out wildlife, such as the destruction of forests due to palm oil production which gained recent media attention.
“Not only are we driving climate breakdown by burning fossil fuels and felling forests, we are wiping out the pollinators we depend on to grow food, poisoning the soil and rivers and destroying wildlife habitat”, said Read.
Humanity has already wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, according to a WWF report, which warned that the loss of wildlife was now an emergency that is also threatening our civilisation. Worse still, last month a new scientific study showed 45% of all potential environmental collapses are interrelated and could amplify one another - meaning we could see dangerous domino effects.
Read remarked “Ecological collapse has begun, with serious implications for all life on Earth - we must treat this as an emergency”.
In his Newcastle talk, Read will explore what is needed to be done to avoid ecological and societal collapse. He will say that scientists offer a glimmer of hope, and with public and political will, there is still just about time to rescue ourselves from the brink of climate collapse. To give some optimism, the inter-linked nature of our problems means that tackling each one also has knock-on benefits in terms of the other issues humanity faces. While leadership by international governments has been far too weak, the COP24 climate talks in Poland offered at least some hope by highlighting a prominent role for civil society - from teenage speaker Greta Thunberg to nonagenarian David Attenborough, and some environmentally-aware companies, and many state and city governments, all squaring up to the climate challenge.
Read will argue that public protests need to be stepped-up. This year saw peaceful direct action by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, whose protestors marched on Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and temporarily closed several main bridges in London in order to highlight the urgent need for climate action. In Newcastle’s Australian namesake city and across the country, children organised large-scale school strikes calling for climate action for the sakes of their futures. Several UK local authorities have passed motions declaring a Climate Emergency, including the London Assembly and Bristol council - one of Newcastle’s fellow ‘Core Cities’. Read calls for greater public pressure on other authorities to follow this lead.
“We need to create a situation in which government can no longer ignore the determination of an increasingly large number of people to shift the world from a direct course towards climate calamity”, urged Read.
In his talk, organised by Newcastle Green Party, Read will also highlight the need for a clear political programme of how to secure the future of humanity while also creating a happier, more equal and secure society that works for the common good.
Rupert Read’s public lecture entitled ‘The Time is Now: the Case for Green Rebellion’ will be given at Brunswick Methodist Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne (accessible from Blackett Street and Northumberland Street and close to Monument Metro station) on Thursday the 3rd of January.
Refreshments will be available from 6:15pm and the talk will commence at 6:30pm.