The Covid19 pandemic is a clear warning that we need to address climate change. It is also an opportunity to rebuild in a new direction. That was the message from Sir David Attenborough on the opening day of the Nobel Prize Summit “Our Planet Our Future”.
The conference is online which is the way ahead for international events with the focus on the climate emergency. No one need fly around the world to attend and because it was free to register, all of us who wish to, can hear from the speakers.
Sir David Attenborough narrates the documentary ‘Breaking Boundaries- The Science of our Planet’ and the conference gave us a short preview.
The conference revolves around three themes:
- climate change and biodiversity loss
- reducing inequality
- technology, harnessing the power of science and innovation
We need leading minds to come together across disciplines, said Vidar Helgesen, and to engage with policy makers. There needed to be critical thinking,critical discussion, and critical action.
The speakers all stressed the importance of science as being the tool to find our way out of the climate crisis. Covid put scientists in the spotlight like never before, explained Marcia McNutt, health professionals and scientists are making the difference. She said that we have to bring the same sense of urgency to climate change and inequalities that was brought to deal with the Covid19 pandemic. She added that this is the decisive decade for humanity.
Johan Rockström continued to stress the sense of urgency in dealing with the climate catastrophe. We need to act decisively, he said and we need to act in parallel. We have been ‘slicing, dicing and simplifying ‘ the world biosphere with a disastrous loss of species. Johan Rockström said that this was a transformative decade- a ‘window barely open’, where we can make the changes.
Inequality and the climate emergency are interlinked. We have to take action to address both. Sandra Diaz commented that the living fabric of our planet is being unravelled fast. There is intolerable social and environmental inequalities she said. Nobody today is fully local because we are globally connected in so many ways, by trade, travel, and communications.
Sandra Diaz was in a joint discussion with Thomas Lovejoy who coined the term “biological diversity”. Thomas Lovejoy reminded us that every species represents a 4 billion year lineage which in itself should be respected. We should revel in the variety of life on Earth, he said.
“Let’s defend our future, let’s fight for it, let’s create it,” urged Sandra Diaz. The need is to act urgently with practical measures locally but also fundamental change at the level of social economic governance.
The Nobel Prize Summit is a 3 day international conference. Online and free.
Reporter Fiona Grahame