Visions can mobilise communities, countries and global networks to deliver extraordinary outcomes. ‘Visions 2100’ is a book and movement headed by Australian native John O’Brien which urges people from all over the world to think about what kind of world they hope for or envisage by the year 2100. On Monday, 25 July Jennifer Mc Aree, Chrissie Walker and Liam Murtagh of Transition Monaghan attended a ‘Visions 2100’ event at An Taisce’s headquarters in Tailors’ Hall, Dublin. Jennifer elaborates below.
Jennifer Mc Aree
As well as collating material and publishing ‘Visions 2100’ as a book, John O’Brien organised four global events in Singapore, Edinburgh, London and Dublin, to promote and spread the word for his inspiring idea. The book is a compilation of short paragraphs from 80 leading environmental thinkers and influencers from across the globe, including our own Mary Robinson – former Irish President, founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice and current United Nations (UN) Special Envoy on Climate Change. Each author was asked to write about what they predict for our planet at the turn of the next century. While many describe a hopeful, positive future where there is greater equality, less focus on materialism, improved living conditions for the world’s impoverished people and a healthier environment, others do not.
Pictured at the Visions 2100 event were, from left, Dr Cara Augustenbourg (Friends of the Earth), John O’ Brien (author of Visions 2100), Phil Kearney (An Taisce) and John Gibbons (environmental journalist)
Irish journalist and environmentalist John Gibbons, who spoke at the Dublin event, painted a somewhat negative picture of what kind of world humans will inhabit in 2100. In just over 80 years’ time, he envisages that if we continue living as we do and exacerbating climate change, there will only be 50 million people left on the planet out of our current population of 7.4 billion – that is one person for every 140 of us living now! John emphasised that we continue to act for the short term, and that in most countries (including Ireland) there has been no longer term vision put in place. Essentially he believes we must urgently move to a low carbon economy, away from fossil fuel reliance and intensive modern agriculture.
Dr. Cara Augustenbourg, scientist and environmental campaigner based at UCD, was a little more optimistic. Like John Gibbons, she focused on agriculture and lamented at our government’s failure to tackle the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. However she proposed an alternative method to what we have now, giving the example of Cuba and its focus on community food production. There, many people grow vegetables locally and sell their produce at nearby markets – therefore it remains organic, cheap and convenient. In doing this Cubans naturally consume less meat and dairy and so remain healthier, despite being less well off than most other nations in the Western world. She said we can act on the climate issue now. Governments have to lead change, but there must be a system change, where local people power overtakes international corporate power.
Aideen O’Hora, founder of ‘Sustainable Nation’ referred to the poem ‘Epic’ by Monaghan’s own Patrick Kavanagh. It describes how parochial, yet important local views can be. Aideen linked this with the global issue of climate change. Rapidly rising temperatures are causing drought and water shortages in certain nations, so that millions will be displaced and forced to move to safer countries, while millions more will die from starvation and war. These are challenging predictions to face up to, but they are very real and will become more apparent over the coming decades unless action is taken right now.
Finally, barrister and former Minister for Energy Alex White spoke frankly about his struggles in government to make positive changes to Irish energy policy. He acknowledged that a lot of people still need to be persuaded about the imminence of climate change and to do something about it. He described the reluctance of those in power to act as ‘benign procrastination’. He stressed the need for national engagement; that it needs to be continuous, not just sporadic, in order to drive the message on climate change home.
This was a worthwhile event and the speakers painted a future of major challenges that we all need to play our part in addressing. What do you think Monaghan and the world will be like in 2100? Why not write it in less than 200 words and have it featured on the http://www.visions2100 website?