Lies aren’t free. Talk is cheap.

Here are some of my thoughts on the movie Greedy Lying Bastard and the recent student strike around the world.

Today, everyone knows that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It is a scientific fact that we have been told since we were little. However, this discovery challenged the authority and power of the Catholic Church back in the 17th century.

When Galileo Galilei disagreed with the Church’s orthodoxy that the Earth was the centre of the universe, the Roman Inquisition put him on trial in 1633. It was, of course, an unfair battle back in those days – Galileo’s science versus the Church’s religion! He was found guilty and was forced to live under house arrest for the rest of his life.

The Galileo affair and climate change denial have one thing in common. That is, because of different ideological starting points, new and evidence-based scientific findings are considered as threats by powerful interests.

When most of the leading scientific organizations in the world have affirmed the theory of man-made climate change, fossil fuel companies are still bankrolling climate denial lobby groups to suppress climate research and misrepresent the related scientific evidence. Well, lies aren’t free, are they?

The cause of rising temperatures shall no longer be the centre of the debate. What really matters here is a long list of the devastating consequences, such as rising sea levels, frequent extreme weather events and infectious diseases. These are the most dangerous and underestimated threats to humanity.

The truth is that lies always cost more than the truth. When climate extremes are becoming the new normal, the cost of inaction on climate change is just like putting off paying your credit card debt, which would lead to mounting interest charges and late payment fees.

Those who worry about global warming or follow climate science were already aware of the warnings from scientists through the decades regarding the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The impact is great, and early action is required. Sooner would be better than later, and now would be better than sooner.

Each year, governments around the world meet up to progress action on climate change and make commitments to climate action. However, most nations are also updating their commitments every year because they keep failing to implement their minimal tasks which are already far below what is required to prevent climate change.

We waited and waited, and here we are. Still unprepared. We are almost out of time. The UN sounds another alarm on climate in a recent IPCC report that we have just less than 12 years left to prevent global temperatures from rising 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. If the world doesn’t take unprecedented action to curb global warming, climate change effects would be irreversible.

In response to climate change inaction, hundreds of thousands of students around the world skipped school weeks ago, demanding governments take action to combat global warming. It is great to see these kids speaking up and taking action, especially when grown adults haven’t got a clue to save the world.

Climate change is often perceived as a distant threat because it will take a long time for signs of its negative impacts to become obvious. People are often reluctant to make some changes in the short-term in exchange for long-term benefits.

That’s human nature. We don’t know how to bring long-term thinking into the short-term world. We are living selfishly at the cost of the quality of life of future generations. Young people have every right to be concerned about climate change and demand for a better future.

However, during a period of a transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, what we need is some serious behaviour changes, at both the individual and organizational levels. School strike might increase the awareness of the adverse impacts of climate change, but it does not offer a valid solution to the climate problem.

Those student protesters shall take a moment to examine their everyday behaviours and think about how they can make a tangible difference through some real actions. In the end, every effort counts, no matter how small.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church once states that “God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth”. Galileo waited for 359 years until the Church finally admitted he was right. So, when will the world act on climate change before it’s too late? Remember, talk is cheap.

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