By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt.
Every few years there is a new “end of the world” scare. There was Y2k, the Mayan calendar, and many others that have come and gone. However, now, U.N. climate scientists have a doomsday prophesy that is backed by scientific data and rigorous research.
This newest prediction is based on the fact that global climate change is looming over us and we are getting closer and closer to passing the point of no return. After the 2019 U.N. climate summit, it was determined that if we as a global civilization do not drastically reduce our carbon emissions within 12 years there will be disastrous effects. These effects include drought, floods, and extreme heat, all of which can lead to famine and poverty.
Currently, the Earth is sitting at, on average, 1.0°C hotter than pre-industrial levels. It is being predicted that if nothing is done the Earth will soon be 1.5°C to 2.0°C hotter than pre-industrial levels. This seemingly small change in temperature will have devastating effects on all aspects of life on Earth.
Ecosystems would become highly threatened, extreme weather events such as hurricanes and floods will occur with an elevated frequency, coastal flooding will increase, and these are just the initial effects. Over time, with temperatures rising, it will become more common for there to be extremely hot days that result in high levels of mortality. The effects are immediate, and life threatening.
It is clear that the time to act is now. Even for those who think that the effects of climate change may be exaggerated or who think that climate change isn’t man-made, the fact that so many leading minds of the world are coming to one consensus must mean something. With such tangible and realistic, and terrifying outcomes, any change is worth a try.
For the average person it would do well to recycle, reduce food waste, and refrain from purchasing unnecessary plastics. Every little bit that we can do will help. However, just as the individual must take responsibility, so must governments and corporations. They must do their fair share to help relieve the Earth of the tremendous stress that it is under.
Industrial manufacturing and factory farming, just to name two examples, are some of the greatest contributors to the rising carbon level in the atmosphere. Having world governments take a good hard look at what industries they are subsidizing and endorsing is integral to fixing this problem.
The Paris climate agreement was a step in the right direction in regard to this. With the majority of the world’s nations signing on and pledging to reduce carbon emissions there is promising potential for the future. Though no matter how hard some nations try, countries like our very own United States, and others, are making this difficult. The Trump administration’s seeming dismissal of the climate issue is troubling and is a problem in and of itself.
Jim Skea, a co-chair of the group tasked with mitigating the climate issue had this to say “We have presented governments with pretty hard choices. We have pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C, and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that”.
The road ahead is long and hard, expensive and inconvenient, especially for those who are making a profit off of the very industries that are killing our planet, but these steps must be taken.
In the meantime, scientists are still hopeful. “Two years ago, even I didn’t believe 1.5C was possible but when I look at the options, I have confidence it can be done.” says climate scientist Jiang Kejun. Techology is still progressing at impressive speeds and renewable energy is becoming more viable every day.
Hopefully the power of science and the human spirit can win out against the political machine that seems to take a leap backwards for every advancement made.
PHOTO COURTESY: THE CLIMATE GROUP