Jacqui Evans: ‘We are in crisis’

Saturday August 31, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
OPINION: This week keen young leaders attended a Te Ipukarea Society camp to learn about careers in science and conservation. Environmental award-winning Marae Moana director Jacqui Evans spoke to them.

We are in a crisis. Our ocean is threatened by climate change, pollution and over fishing.  90 per cent of predatory fish have disappeared since the 1950s.  30 per cent of sharks and 58 per cent of all corals are threatened with extinction.  

If we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast, we could see a rise in sea level of 1.5 metres by 2100, displacing approximately 650 million people.  

More frequent and severe cyclones, floods and drought, issues with food security.  All coral reefs will disappear by 2050 if we don’t do something about climate change now. 

Around four tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every minute, with 70 per cent of that coming from 10 of the major rivers in the world. 

Scientists call this era the anthropocene because of the impact that humans are having on the planet. 

How does that make you feel? Scared? Angry? 

On behalf of my generation and the generations before me, I apologise to the younger generation for not leaving the planet in the same or better condition than it was when our generation was born into this world.

What is driving this? Humans’ love affair with fossil fuels began with the industrial revolution. The metal in your motor vehicles, the minerals in your cellphones, the plastic in your laptops, all has to come from somewhere, be it through mining, drilling for oil or deforestation.

Combine this with global population growth, the demand for these materials is enormous.

So how do we slow down or stop this destruction? Do we give up our cellphones, motor vehicles, reduce our exports? Go back to growing our own vegetables and fishing for our local community only?

I know very well that my generation has failed to do this. Will your generation be the same?

Your greatest hope is yourselves. You have the opportunity to mobilise among yourselves to take control of this planet’s future. You can raise awareness using social media. 

Go to university – study engineering so you can seek solutions to environmental problems, study political science and history so you can influence policy, study marine science so you can provide the evidence needed for politicians to make better decisions.

Also, read. Read about your world. Watch YouTube but about local and international politics

And get involved in politics here. Educate yourselves and become aware. Don’t just listen to your parents or your Aunts and Uncles, educate yourselves and make your own choices.


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