The COVID-19 pandemic process has once again shown us how vital the balance between nature and human beings is. The grim situation offers us an opportunity – a new way to build a world in accordance with the ancient relationship between nature and humanity.
In the last 50 years, we have become consumerist societies that are producing and consuming more. While there was a three-fold increase in resource processing and use, and a similar increase in energy and food production, the population growth doubled in this period. Undoubtedly, that indicates a rise in individual consumption as well.
Individual consumption differs from region to region, country to country, and even within the country. The latest data has revealed that while the material footprint per capita is 27 metric tons in developed countries, this value is only 2 metric tons in low-income countries. This unjust distribution also creates pollution because production brings waste potential with it. The high level of production, consumption and waste generation causes many problems. The leading actor among them is climate change.
Climate change has become the plague of our times. Just as the coronavirus pandemic – which is a natural result of environmental destruction and degradation – has led us to live our lives in a more controlled way. We should follow the same path in the fight against climate change.
Because of the devastating flood disasters experienced in the last few years, meteorological disasters such as droughts go beyond being just weather events. They also affect food production and supply. So much so that only in the last five months, food prices have increased by up to 50% globally. This situation will also affect food and water supply security and may expose our world to migration waves, which is a security issue that is bigger than ever before.
On the other hand, climate change-caused disasters especially floods and overflows, are causing great damage in cities in almost every region of the world. Many products of the last two centuries are no longer sufficient today and need to be reconsidered on the axis of climate change, and in this respect, the development of climate-resilient cities. These cities promise to offer a more comfortable lifestyle in the face of local, regional and universal issues that are proving difficult to solve.
Today, cities consume 75% of natural resources, generate 50% of the total waste, produce 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the main cause of climate change. For sure, cities, which offer us many opportunities, need a change, a transformation that will lead to a more resilient climate.
Another event in which climate change manifests itself is heat waves. The rising temperatures not only reduce work efficiency, but also cause many diseases, destroying thousands of lives, forests, the air and biodiversity. Forests, which provide oxygen to our world, are facing such great destruction. In most regions, they have turned into a carbon source.
In addition, the number of melting glaciers is also on the rise. The doubling of the melting rate indicates that the expected end may come much earlier. This shows us that climate change is an urgent issue that must be tackled without delay.
Undoubtedly, all these negative results we have mentioned are man-made. The idea of a more comfortable life has made people into creatures that consume a lot and use resources carelessly.
We are exceeding the self-renewal capacity of our world, our resources. Therefore, the resources we consume this year are those that should have been used the next year. Unless we sincerely say "stop" to this, we will be driven toward mass extinction. In other words, the solution to the problem also lies with us, the people who caused the problem.
Nature does not stop. There is no difference between weekdays and weekends. On the contrary, there is constant work, constant renewal and change. Meanwhile, there is an effort to cover the damage done by human hands. An adult tree tirelessly replaces 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds) of carbon dioxide with oxygen every year. Again, we have sea-dwelling creatures, whales, that remove an average of 33,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide throughout their lives. Ignoring the benefits they offer, we humans seem to be in a rush to hunt and destroy them for the sake of pleasure.
The biggest responsibility in this matter should be taken by those who have caused it. This is what justice requires. Although Turkey's historical responsibility for global climate change is below 1% and it is a developing country, it has announced its carbon-neutral target for 2053 in order to contribute to the international goal of trying to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to the pre-industrial period, with its own means and capabilities. The country shared with the world that it will achieve this goal with the "Green Development Revolution" that it started under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.