Changing the conversation on Life on Earth

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The Sixth Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made sombre reading. It is a stark reminder that humankind is still proceeding on the path to an environmental disaster.

The time for climate action is nearly gone, but crucially not completely gone yet. This year there are two related and important Conference of Parties (COP):

UN Biodiversity Conference (11-24 Oct, Kunming)

UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (31 Oct – 12 Nov, Glasgow)

Climate change has received more attention because its impact and narrative come across as more urgent initially. There is now a growing consensus both have to be tackled together.

The bio-diverse ecosystems of forests and ocean absorb more than 50% of greenhouse gases and the loss of bio-diversity drives climate change. On the other hand, failing to tackle climate change will accelerate biodiversity loss. Both problems are intertwined. It is critical the governmental parties take decisive and urgent action before it is too late.

Our emphasis on economic growth at the expense of the natural capital that exists on our planet is the meta-issue. This is a systemic problem of the highest order. There is a need to place less emphasis on the acquisition and consumption of material things and more emphasis on the sustainability and well-being of life.

It is unlikely that the COP events will immediately resolve the deep-seated issues. However, if we do not address this, life on earth will not be sustainable.

The ongoing efforts on finding alternatives of renewal energies, decarbonising the economy and redirecting investments are critical and must be applauded. This is tapping on human ingenuity and science. This is not enough.

The heart of the issue is a return to a more ethical and purposely society that places greater value on the wellbeing of the people, biodiversity and the planet. This is tapping on the soul of human beings and on ethics.

We need radical change, not incremental change. Actuaries at the IFoA will continue to help change the conversation.



Infographics resource
The Sixth Assessment Report by IPCC  .  Illustrated by  Kok Tien Nee