If the world carries on as we are and the climate turns into humanity’s greatest-ever enemy, with violent storms, rising seas, floods, wildfires and drought laying waste to vast swathes of land, killing many and forcing millions to flee, it is a question that will also be an accusation.
“How could you have known what this would lead to, been warned so many times by the world’s leading scientists, for decades, and yet done so little? How could you?”
However, if we recognise the danger and the need for radical changes to our everyday lives, it could be a question asked in expectation of a positive reply. But will it be?
As individuals, we can help reduce the production of greenhouse gases, but such is the size of problem that it requires significant action by multi-national corporations and countries.
The problem is too many people seem to assume governments will sort the problem out, that this existential threat will not be allowed to become a catastrophic reality, and that their lives need not be disrupted.
This complacency has fed through to our political leaders, who talk the talk, but fail to make changes they fear will be unpopular. And so we sleepwalk on.
Professor Paul Ekins, an economist at University College London, recently warned our situation was “absolutely desperate” with current plans to reduce production of fossil fuels “nowhere near” meeting the Paris Agreement targets.
Over the course of the 50 days until Cop26, The Scotsman will be attempting to explore the issues raised by threat of dangerous climate change.
But one thing is clear: it’s time for the public to make politicians feel the metaphorical heat or future generations will suffer consequences that are terrifyingly real. And we are far from alone in this belief.
Speaking at Whitelee wind farm on Eaglesham moor in May, Conservative MP Alok Sharma, president of the United Nations’ Cop26 climate summit, said: “If we do not act now, the science tells us… we will witness a scale of global catastrophe, the likes of which the world has not seen. And quite rightly, future generations will hold us responsible.”