Sir David Attenborough’s passionate voice is one few would struggle to recognise. Next month, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland, world leaders will be listening to it as the famous British naturalist delivers a speech.
And you can even help him write it.
A new UN campaign called the “People’s Seat” has been established to represent the world’s population before a council tasked with putting the brakes on global warming.
Whether anybody will listen or not is another matter. Still, it’s not like the man hasn’t had a lot of practice advocating on behalf of the natural world.
“We all know climate change is a global problem – and for that it requires a global solution,” says Attenborough.
“This is an opportunity for people from across the globe, regardless of their nationality or circumstances, to be part of the most important discussion of this century; the unprecedented action needed to reach the Paris agreement targets.”
The initiative was launched last Wednesday to provide a collective voice on behalf of the world’s citizens before various government delegates when they meet in Poland to discuss implementation of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
We’re all being encouraged to contribute to the pool of opinions summing up humanity’s position on what is a rapidly growing catastrophe. If you’re keen, just tag your thoughts with #TakeYourSeat on social media. Do try to keep the swearing to a minimum, though.
It’s easy to dismiss efforts like these as little more than tokenistic, especially in the face of denialism by many world leaders. There’s only so much shouting into the Twittersphere one can do, after all.
But meetings such as these are where action happens. The 1989 Montreal Protocol is a success story worth keeping in mind, with ongoing reports estimating that the ozone layer’s Antarctic bald spot is filling in nicely.
Besides, the costs of inaction are already making life hell for so many. Climate change is no longer just about our children’s future. It’s our own voices that need to be heard.
Attenborough’s address is just the start of a UN effort to reach out through social media and connect with the public on climate change, with an ‘ActNow’ Facebook messenger bot posed to offer suggestions on how everyday folks like you and I can make a difference.
For some people, these kinds of small, personal efforts are where the revolution starts. Turning off lights, cycling to work, and eating less meat are the changes many people want to see in the world.
But really, the average citizen shouldn’t have to shoulder the guilt of a warming world.
The kinds of complex actions that matter will require big decisions. Incur big costs. Demand big investments. The kinds that can only be made by big leaders, who run governments and industries.
The kinds who will be sitting in Poland next month, discussing how to turn Paris into a reality.
Sir David will have their attention for just a few brief moments.
Hopefully he’ll tell them what we really think.