Once upon a time, our little green princess Čuvarkuća has been searching for and telling stories about people and climate every second Sunday for over a year and – bang! On the occasion of the World Environment Day June 5th, she received a recognition from the National Green Prix 2022 Environmental Award, established by the Croatian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. The awards ceremony took place at the GreenCajt Festival in Zagreb and the night was hot and humid, as Billy Crystal’ would say in his attempt to start a novel. This time it is not about a novel, it’s reality of early June, it is uncomfortably hot and so is the theme of the festival – the climate crisis, sustainability and the future. Our future.
So what are the stories of our little green princes?
Čuvarkuća (meaning “the one who takes care of home”) is the first thematic radio show about people and climate, started in May 2021 as collaborative production of Terra Hub and radio yammat.fm. With a little help of our friends, of course – Green Energy Cooperative, Tatavaka and the Scientists for Climate.
In a bit more than twenty episodes so far, which you can all catch-up-with on radio’s yammat.fm Mixcloud channel, she unpacked many climate-related topics and searched for good examples of actions of people like us and around us. On her plate were the climate crisis, systemic transformation and why we need innovation; she spoke about educational games Climate collage and Ecological renaissance, she was at School climate challenge – Designaton and she hosted three great educational projects guided by ZMAG, the Argonauts Association and ZIR in Lika. She spoke about solar and renewable energy sources, energy cooperatives, energy independent islands and citizens. She brough stories about nature-based solutions in cities, about adaptation to climate change, floods in Germany and rain gardens in Pula. She found good stories about sustainable fashion; sustainable tourism and travel; food and agriculture; sustainable transport. She exposed the wicked links between oil, climate and plastics and presented good stories from Zlarin and Labin without plastics. Čuvarkuća followed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR6 reports and the COP26 in Glasgow, together with our Croatian climate negotiations team and with the UK hosts. She talked about Citizens Assemblies in Paris as a way of involving citizens in climate policymaking; she talked about carbon literacy first-hand from the Carbon Literacy Trust. Čuvarkuća met the start-ups from the EIT Climate-KIC climate accelerator; and she went to Križevci to tell the story of city green transformation. And she loves to read so she went to Zagreb Book Festival with the theme “Apocalypse Now” to meet and talk with some great authors. She’s done a lot more, she’s curious about finding and sharing various pathways to climate-neutral future for us. Why, oh my, all that matters, you may wonder?
It’s our home, stupid!
Zagreb GreenCajt Festival was held at the same time as “Stockholm +50” conference, which marked half-a-century anniversary after the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, back in 1972. Half a century, quite a part of a lifetime of a person like me and you.
“It’s time for bold choices and urgent action”, we’ve heard from Stockholm+50. Yet, what we’ve heard a bit too much at the GreenCajt was “It costs more. We should, we could. We are working on a plan. We wait for funding. It is a cost; it is not profitable. But hey, we are not that bad, we have removed plastic cups from the office and we are separating waste… Solar, yes, it is energy for the future, we have great potential, but oh, realization is limping, sadly… But hey, green is finally in vogue, now is a good moment…” What we heard we’ve been hearing for a long time. The change is slow, the actions are shy and scattered.
Everything has been known for a very long time, the scientists were loud and clear, yet often stifled by politics and corporations. It is not about being in vogue, the change is a necessity of our survival and adaptation to what is to come, it is our home we are destructing. Our house is on fire – we’ve heard that three years ago from Greta T., a sixteen-year-old girl. The emissions continued to raise and so is our consumption. The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere monitored at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii shows it. At present it’s 421 ppm, back in 1972 it was 327 ppm.
Welcome to Anthropocene
Long before Stockholm, back in 1896, Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist first warned that humanity could change the climate globally and that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere could warm the planet. In 1987 “Our Common Future” report by the World Commission on Environment and Development was published and clearly indicated where the problem lies. The problem is us, “we the people” and our unsustainable greed and consumption of everything, consumption of those who are rich(er) at the expense of those who are not or who have not been born yet. The consumption of the global 1% at the expense of everyone else. The consumption of global top 100 at the expense of everyone else.
Nothing has changed despite a series of UN framework conventions and agreements, the Agenda 2030, despite the reports from world scientists gathered in intergovernmental panels, each coming up with a growing body of scientific data and evidence that we humans are changing the planet with our limitless consumption, extraction of natural resources and wasting, wasting, wasting. In 2000, Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer concluded that the Earth had entered a new geological era, the Anthropocene. The last era we’ve learnt at school was Holocene and it lasted for 12.000 years. Not anymore.
We live an uncontrollable experiment in the biosphere
The evidence comes from researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre who measure and monitor changes in the Earth’s systems that support life as we know it. Thirteen years ago in 2009, they estimated that the Earth had crossed 3 of the 9 planetary boundaries of “a safe living space for humanity“. Until today we’ve crossed six of them: climate, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles, the use of land due to deforestation, new substances that we introduce into the environment, including plastics; and fresh water, without which we have no life. In little more than a decade we crossed the safe boundary of living space for more than half of the great Earth systems that support our life, our Garden of Eden, as the great Sir David Attenborough calls it.
And where are we today? We’re getting warmer, we’re getting sicker, some are getting fatter, some are starving, many are leaving homes that are becoming inhabitable. We are becoming more unequal; the rich have never been richer and the poor have never been poorer. We’re becoming more sensitive, more aggressive, we’re at war, we’re threatening, we’re stealing.
Empirical data from scientists show unprecedented changes in key parts of the Earth’s system. Every decade in which we have not acted to stop that since the first Stockholm -50, we are losing the resilience of the Earth’s system, the only known in the Solar system that sustains our life. We’re living an uncontrollable experiment in the biosphere.
Let’s not lose another decade, stupid!
But what is important – it is not too late for us to do something ourselves, let’s not lose another decade. We make decisions and choices every day, about what we do and how we live and work – we the citizens, customers, travellers, students, managers, workers, service users, directors, craftsmen, drivers, politicians or simply parents… We are choosing our future. Let us chose the one that cares about our home, let us all be Čuvarkuća, imagine that! Listen and share your stories at @yammat.fm and @TerraHubCroatia!
Čuvarkuća thank the jury and thank YOU for listening, acting and building the stories she tells. Every second Sunday at 11:20 a.m. on radio yammat.fm Čuvarkuća tells your and our good stories about people who demonstrate that it can be done differently and better. Better for nature and people, society and the climate.
The content production is enabled by the financial support of the European Climate Foundation, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the partners of the Knowledge and Innovation Community for climate EIT Climate – KIC as well as the embassies of Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, the USA and the UK in Zagreb and the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Programme.