We Have to Help each other, Hand in Hand
Imaging that the 4-billion-year geological age of the Earth to be condensed into one hundred years, the pristine plants and animals didn’t emerge until in its fifties, while the large reptiles such as dinosaurs appeared when it’s been ninety-five years old; in this virtual history of one hundred years, human being is definitely a new born baby in its very first day, and we are born in a big colorful garden with all vitality and energy. However, in terms of reforming this old garden, we the new comers have contributed much more than any other species on the Earth. The Industrial Revolution, which has just begun five minutes ago, greatly changed human being’s living and production conditions, resulting in unprecedented and even irreversible damage to the Earth at the same time.
Faced with the fact that this little planet has been damaged so many times, if we follow the traditional way of industrialization without facing the challenges practically, it would be a giant question mark for whether human beings can survive longer on the Earth.
As early as in 1970s, Club of Rome sent out the warnings in “The Limits to Growth”; and in the beginning of 21st century, United Nations’ “Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report” provided specific descriptions; and the fourth report on climate change assessment presented by UN IPCC---“Climate Change 2007” gives more detailed scenario analyses on he relations between human activities and climate change, the needs of prompt action to mitigate climate change, as well as the economic costs and probable results of different degree measures for emissions reduction.
If we adopt strong measures for reducing emissions, by 2030, the global GHGs emission might be reduced to the level in 2000; and if we adopt weak measures, it would be one hundred years before it drops to the same level in 2000. Analyses have shown that even if we adopt strong emissions reduction measures, the global average temperature will still increase about 2 degrees, which will cause the extinction of 20%-30% species on the globe.
And if we are slow in taking action and reluctant in making investment, the global average temperature will increase 6 degrees, which means “the green foliage forest will reappear inside the Arctic Circle in Canada, similar situation in the hinterland in South Pole. However, the land will be submerged largely, 95% species will be extinct because the plants and animals can not adapt to the new environment, as a result the Earth will be faced with the ultimate catastrophe.” (“Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet”, Mark Lynas, 2007)
Either the scientists’ research reports or Mark Lynas’ work, they have the common ground: the avoidance of the tragedy by human actions. Then, what on earth shall we do to meet the challenges?
Two years ago, in Tallberg, a small Sweden town far away from the boisterous cities, the author had the honor to attend the Forum of “How on earth can we live together?” with more than 450 politicians, multinational CEOs, well-known scientists and social celebrities from over 70 countries, including the Sweden King Gustaf, Jordan Queen Riana and Latvian President Vaira Vike. Different from the previous ones, eight Chinese college students were invited to attend the Forum, with an exceptional one hour for all participants to listen to Chinese young people, which had never happened before. For this special one hour, I arranged a ten-minute one-act play named as “New Understanding of ‘Help Each Other When in Same Boat’”.
The general plot of the program is: The challenge of energy crisis and climate change is like a surfy ocean, while the human being is a group of passengers in a boat travelling across the ocean; the fancy first-class cabins are occupied by belly grown-ups (representing developed countries whose carbon footprints have far exceeded the world’s per capita level), and on the contrary, hurdled in the tourist-class cabins are the youngsters without money in their pocket (representing developing countries whose carbon footprints are small but will enlarge with the growth of their body).
The seawater is getting closer and closer to the shipboard, everyone is in danger. At this time, one first-class passenger comes to the economy class cabin with a pack of medicine on his hand, announcing that if it is taken, the youngsters will develop their body normally without the increase of the weight, so all of them will reach the shore safe and sound. However, he adds, the youngsters must pay a lot of money for this “catholicon”. In the end, there will be three endings:
The first scenario, the grown-ups do not want to “lose weight” or sell the “catholicon” at a bargained price; the youngsters are still growing and the boat’s load is increasing, gradually it is capsized in the ocean. The second scenario, the grown-ups refuse to “lose weight” or sell the “catholicon” at a bargained price. Nevertheless, the clever youngsters finally find out the “scripture” for strengthening the boat’s loading capability after “ten years’ diligence”, so the navigation safety is guaranteed. In this scenario, the boat finally reaches the shore, but they must endure various hardships before the “scripture” is discovered. The third scenario, the grown-ups have realized that “everybody is in the same boat and they must help each other”, and they begin to “lose weight” and sell the “catholicon” at a symbolic price of one US dollar to the youngsters, so the youngsters become the youths without their body overdeveloped. With concerted efforts by all, the total load of the boat is reduced and it reaches the destination in the end.
The quotation of “Help each other when in the same boat” can be traced back to more than 2000 years ago. However, this saying, with such a long history, can be used today to answer the question of how to meet the challenges of energy crisis, environmental pollution and climate change. The new U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been smart enough to quote it in her speech at the Asian Society meeting in February.
The next stop for the human beings’ shipping boat will be Copenhagen, a place which I believe will become a qualified supply station as long as the consensus of “help each other when in the same boat” can be truly agreed between North and South, as long as we can go forward together “hand in hand".