Op-Ed to 2020 IUCN report declaring Climate Change as the greatest threat to nature

During the Covid-19 winter of 2020 a long overdue declaration of the existential threat the climate crisis poses on the future of this planet and its inhabitants was released. We at Our Drowning Voices fear this delay of awareness and urgency is a reflection of the flaws of the current status quo where climate change is treated as an intersectional sub issue rather than THE issue. This led to ODV member, Olivia Staubus, to author this op-ed:

Less than one year ago, on December 2nd, 2020, the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 was published. The report declared that climate change is now the top threat to 33% of world heritage sites. Commenting on the report, IUCN Director General Bruno Oberle highlighted the critical importance of acting with seriousness to mitigate the climate crisis. The monumental conclusions of the report and the diligent work that went into its creation should not go unappreciated, however, we must understand that the IUCN has waited too long to come to this determination, and the consequences of such a delay are devastating. We are in crisis, and have been for decades now. If we continue to address climate change at this pace, we cannot reasonably expect to tackle this monster of our own creation. Yes, this is an environmental crisis, but foremost this is a human rights crisis that must be afforded the most urgency. Our brothers and sisters of island nations across the globe are currently facing the loss of their home lands to sea level rise. The global youth are terrified that we are destined to inherit an uninhabitable planet. We do not have years to develop a plan, we have run out of time and we must sprint full speed ahead to make up for the time we have lost.

The IUCN has a responsibility to act with extreme urgency and innovation beyond anything it has ever experienced. The status quo will not suffice. We must create the IUCN Climate Crisis Commission immediately. While all six of the other IUCN commissions are addressing climate change in their own manner, this is simply not enough. Upon four instances we have seen that establishing a climate change Task Forces in lieu of a Commission, does not render the influence and results we need. Many of us are familiar with Albert Einstein’s cautionary quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” A collective of thousands of the world’s leading experts on the environment are certainly not insane, so why would we continue to fight climate change in the same way that has proven to be ineffective? How can we acknowledge that climate change poses the greatest threat to our planet yet still be resistant to serious action to mitigate and reverse the damages?

Olivia Staubus


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