Crisis in Oz: Climate Change and the Green Brick Road to Sustainability

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Climate change and sustainable development | 0 comments

Article by Hilda Hilmi

Photo by julio andres rosario ortiz on Unsplash


To combat climate change, we must click our heels three times and say ‘There’s no place like home’. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy finds herself challenged in a completely new environment, struggling to find a way to normalcy. However, her fate takes a promising turn when she encounters the yellow brick road and meets three characters who transform her destiny.


Like Dorothy, we find ourselves navigating a profound shift in our environment as global warming reaches unprecedented levels, giving rise to a slew of significant natural disasters. For example, the relentless heatwaves in Afghanistan[1] have resulted in declining healthcare systems and diminishing access to clean water. Scientists warn that without global unity to curb carbon emissions, the climate crisis will be forced into a new and accelerating phase of destruction[2].


However, at important times like these, we should ask ourselves, what would Dorothy do?


Following the book, Dorothy embarks on her journey along the yellow brick road and befriends the Scare Crow who is searching for a brain. What eludes many of us is the depth of understanding needed to address the environmental crisis effectively. We search the world for a solution, but the core of the problem lies in the deeply entrenched roots of industrial capitalism within society. To put it briefly, Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and mankind are unwilling to invest the effort and money needed to combat the climate crisis.


Instead, we circle around the same conversation “A solution has to be effective” but shouldn’t cost a lot because MNCs and governments prioritize profits. Simultaneously, there’s a common sentiment that  “MNCs caused the mess, they should fix the problem.” However, it’s vital to acknowledge that MNCs thrive on consumerism, a cycle we all play a part in.


In turn, the prevalence of consumerism is the primary driver behind the persistence of industrial capitalism. Moreover, as consumers, we bear an ethical duty to curtail our consumption of material goods.[3] As a result, it is imperative we acknowledge this and strive to lessen our consumption. It is essential to recognise that this materialistic culture is typically prevalent in economically strong nations with abundant resources, often making them less immediately affected by environmental challenges, leaving poorer countries to fend for themselves.


The bottom line is that rich nations need to learn from Dorothy’s second friend: the Tin Man.


As Dorothy continues her journey, she meets the Tin Man who yearns for a heart. What we can learn from this is the importance of cultivating compassion, especially for wealthier governments.


The root cause of early environmental degradation impacts in poorer countries isn’t solely consumerism but rather their limited resources. To illustrate, China is the world’s biggest polluter – responsible for 30% of global carbon emissions[4]. However, due to their strong economy, the state can invest in renewable energy; enabling them to mitigate global warming effects. Conversely, Somalia contributes only 0.03% of global carbon emissions[5], yet grapples with extreme vulnerability to persistent droughts[6] due to constrained resources. 


The effects of the climate crisis are a testament to the interconnectedness of the world. In addition, wealthier nations bear a moral and political obligation to act in solidarity with their less privileged counterparts. This emphasises cooperation between states as our very own green brick road to sustainability.


Nevertheless, the yellow brick road path does not conclude without introducing Dorothy’s last companion: the Cowardly lion. In the book, the lion discovers the courage to protect his friends and earns the title of ‘the Courageous Lion’. Courage is precisely what we need right now.


Courage to grasp the severity of the situation. Courage to empathise with underprivileged communities already facing the consequences. Courage to acknowledge we are losing time.


The contrast between a fairy tale and reality is that ending global warming requires more than just ‘clicking our heels three times’. What we need is commitment, development and management. While it’s easy to pin the blame elsewhere, it’s far more productive to understand the issue of climate change discriminates against no one. We all share a collective responsibility for our current situation. As a cohesive society, we must unite and confront the issue collectively.











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