‘I want to play cricket on the green,‘I’m a boy’: Pete Townsend, The Who: 1966
Ride my bike across the stream…’
As we greet November here in Cape Town, we welcome the return of the summer months: thoughts turn to outdoor activities, especially on our magnificent beaches and time in and on the oceans that skirt our Peninsula. The Waterfront Charters seven vessels will be plying the swells of Table Bay with smiling guests aboard enjoying the unparalleled views and the fully stocked bars. The mountain range that sits in the middle of our suburbs will be hiked by people in comfortable shoes; the sports fields are dotted with ‘flannelled fools ‘ (Rudyard Kipling’s words, not mine) chasing cricket balls across the green swathes; children will hopefully be out in the sunshine and not glued to their phones, the birds singing, the insects buzzing and all will be well with the world.
Well, not exactly. November also sees the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, otherwise known as COP27, and this annual gathering addresses the ‘uncomfortable truth’ of global warming and climate change. Each year since 1992 the more responsible nations have been gathering to put plans and ideas into action that will offset the potential disaster of carbon pollution. Nobody put it better than António Gutteres, Secretary General of the United Nations in February of this year:
“Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone – now. Many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now. Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction – now. The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal. The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home. There are two core truths: first, coal and other fossil fuels are choking humanity; second, investments in adaptation work. Delay means death.”
He didn’t mince his words; and with good reason. There are still climate change denialists, and there are still areas where climate change is actually making life better temporarily; these two facts are interlinked. But at the rate we are going nobody on the planet will be safe from the results in the not too distant future. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but certainly in the next couple of generations. The Sixth Great Extinction may go beyond the birds and beasts of the planet; humans may well go the way of the dinosaurs if we don’t wake up the facts and get moving to make changes – as Gutteres puts it – now.
Looking through a list of the measurements and statistics from 2022 relating to climate change can be a sobering experience. It seems as if each day brought some new fact or figure to induce a sense of inevitability. At random: January 13th saw Australia record its highest ever temperature – 50.7˚; February – the Winter Olympic Games saw not one flake of snow fall: it was 100% artificial. 7 April: Reports of an annual increase in global atmospheric methane of 17 parts per billion in 2021 – the largest annual increase recorded since systematic measurements began in 1983, and rising each year. 26 May: a study in Nature Climate Change reveals that storms in the Southern Hemisphere have already reached intensity levels previously predicted to occur only in the year 2080. 18 July: a study shows that climate change-related marine heatwaves during 2015 -2019 resulted in widespread mass sea-life die-offs in five consecutive years. In March – a coral bleaching event caused severe bleaching in 60 percent of the corals in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The list goes on and on.
This may sound like a Doomsday Prophecy sermon; it’s not meant to be. At Waterfront Charters we don’t only love the nature that surrounds us when we cruise out onto the Atlantic; we love our guests too. We love the excitement, the wonder, the joy that is expressed by old and young as they take in the magnificence of the scenery, the feel of the swells, the smell of the ocean and the atmosphere generated by a group of like-minded people. Whether it’s a private charter party aboard a luxurious catamaran or small group of nature lovers experiencing an Ocean Safari; happy guests thrilling to a sail-cracking adventure across the Bay aboard our schooner, or a throng of tourists checking out the V&A sights on a Harbour Cruise, it’s always the same: happiness abounds.
All that we ask is that everyone takes notice of the findings of the COP27 conference. It may seem like it’s not our fault; that we can’t do anything to change the minds of powers that be around the world. But we can: each action by an individual adds to a groundswell of support – together we can turn this around before it’s too late: your descendants deserve their time on the waves too, enjoying the cool breezes on a summer’s day aboard a Waterfront Charters boat.