"Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." Brundtland-1987
This definition of sustainability from the 1983 United Nations Commission's report 'Our Common Future' is my favourite "sound-bite" for understanding Climate Change. The planet around us is affected by our actions - great and small; everything we do has an impact on the resources that are available to us and to our children.
"An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities." Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change- 2001
The common factor of the quotes mentioned so far in this article is that they are a) global and b) historical. It has been many (many) years since the global community became aware of mankind's impact on the environment and the planet; but it has taken all of that time to make Climate Change a mainstream issue - and you will still find people who do not agree that there is an issue. I'm not sure what the benefit in arguing that there is no problem with the environment and no issue of climate change is... perhaps it is the human nature of not wishing to face catastrophe? The fact is that for every reasoned argument for you will find a reasoned (and often an unreasoned) argument against. If anyone is any doubt they should read the excellent paper from the Royal Society.
When I was growing up 'being green' was fringe politics. It was the domain of hippies and sandal wearers and the like (or so it seemed). Now we are all expected to do our bit. This is the important part. Often people will excuse lack of action on the basis that "I'm just one person" and "What difference will it make". If we all act as 'just one person' we will make a big difference.
Every drop of water that we save, every light that we turn off, every plastic bag that we don't use, every car journey we don't take and walk instead - if everyone of us takes these little actions they add up to something big. If everyone of us takes these little actions it shows that we are serious. It encourages business and government to contribute too.
What we need to encourage is real action. We need to encourage people to change the way they think as well as act. From me and you right up to global government. Less lip service, less carbon emissions trading and the like - more action. That is what today is all about - encouraging action.