Mike Edwards: Before leaders discuss our planet, they should go out and enjoy it

Share
Related Topics

MOST scientists, scholars and activists would agree that the causes of anthropogenic climate change can be traced to the industrial revolution.

I would argue, however, that the causes of climate change, at least the mindset that resulted in the threat of climate change, can be traced back to much earlier times – indeed, to the dawn of western philosophy and a relatively innocuous statement from dear old Socrates.

He stated, one assumes with a degree of sophistic ambiguity, that: "I am a lover of learning, and trees and open country won't teach me anything, whereas men in the city do". With these simple words, Socrates created a "fracture" between humans and nature and it is this disconnection that has resulted in the demise of whole ecosystems and will, if we are not very careful, result in potentially catastrophic climate change.

While it would be unfair to blame Socrates for the collapse of the biophysical systems that make life on Earth possible, I believe his statement provides a useful reference point for identifying when the true causes of climate change – the separation between people and nature – started to occur. Over the last 2,000 or so years our relationship with nature has grown increasingly violent and now we see nature as little more than a repository for our waste – an externality; indeed nature, which, in its entirety, makes life on Earth possible, is regarded as a problem.

As the world's political leaders gear up for the climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen in December of this year, millions of people are calling for them to show real leadership and agree a truly just and equitable agreement that will be of benefit to all people that share this fragile planet.

Of the delegates who will be negotiating at the conference, I have one very small request – before leaving for Copenhagen, please take time out of your busy schedule and spend some time with nature. Take a walk in the woods, swim in a lake, ponder the beauty of a flower – only by connecting to that which is "natural" will you realise what there is to lose if you don't fight for an agreement that will ensure a brighter more sustainable future.



Dr Mike Edwards, Climate Change Adviser for CAFOD, will be speaking at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham, 28-31 August

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: A huge step forward in medical science, but we're not all the way there yet

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album