The Reality We Face
Climate change is real. The scientific community knows our current climate system is changing, that is fact. The evidence is everywhere and growing. But, what sets these current changes apart from changes of centuries past, from the never-ending cycles that have governed our planet for eons, is that this time the changes are our fault...
The warming trend that has been observed since the industrial revolution, that has seen global temperatures rise to societal disrupting levels, has coincided with a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide naturally warms our planet but, because of us, there is an increasing amount of it in the atmosphere, making our planet warmer than it normally would be. This increase in carbon dioxide is the result of burning fossil fuels, agriculture, deforestation, and various forms of modern industry.
Because of this unnatural shift in our climate, Earth is experiencing accelerating changes with an unnerving frequency that will affect both the planet's natural systems and ourselves. Sea levels are rising due to melting polar ice sheets and glaciers. oceans are becoming more acidic because of increased carbon dioxide uptake. Drought is flaring and floods are ravaging. Storms are intensifying and species are dying. But, For many, the effects are a distant or even nonexistent problem. Climate change is simply a scientific uncertainty, myth, or just a hoax.
Be that as it may, myth and hoax do not force the world to action, truth does. Civilization is changing. The world is undergoing a transformation not seen in centuries and science (even though it does) doesn't even have to prove it, economics can.
In an effort to reduce emissions, become more economically secure, and achieve sustainable best practices countries around the globe, from China and Costa Rica to Sweden and the United Arab Emirates, are transforming all aspects of their economies to ready themselves for the challenges of climate change. Renewable energy is surging, alternative vehicles are growing in demand, sustainable design is becoming the norm, and the scientific truth about climate change and our role in it has been spoken in all corners of the globe. movement, despite the actions of some, is now unstoppable.
The Paris agreement, much like the book series fictional Auxilium Protocol, is perhaps the greatest embodiment of this movement. Forged in December 2015 amongst 193 representative countries, so far ratified by 191, the Paris Agreement gives nations a path towards reducing their emissions to ensure that global temperatures do not exceed two degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels. The agreement also provides a framework, unlike anything seen before it, that encourages international cooperation and transparency in any future actions taken. The document entered into force on November 4, 2016.
As the century moves forward, only more will see that action needs to be taken. Climate change and other environmental issues should not be our sole reason for changing our destructive ways. There is a reason the world no longer runs off of burning wood and whale oil.
Global temperature chart from Reading University climate scientist ed hawking in the United Kingdom.
Smog over Shanghai, China.
Image Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty
Storm surge pounding against the Fort Lauderdale coastline after the passing of a tropical cyclone.
Image Credit: Spence Platt/Getty Images
UK coal-fired power plant.
Image Credit: MAJA HITIJ/GETTY IMAGES
NASA produced animation displaying atmospheric carbon dioxide and its movement and distribution across the planet
For us to grow sustainably and with the intent that all in our civilization must be given the right to a healthy, clean, and plentiful existence, we as a whole must move towards habits and behaviors that are seen as logical next steps, not obstacles to be rejected. North America was crossed with wood, steam, and rails. The world was connected through electricity produced by oil, coal, and gas. Now, in the twenty-first century, humanity will solidify its continued existence with renewables and resourceful practices that do not impede on future generations' abilities to meet their own needs. This is the basic definition of what it means to be sustainable. to beat climate change, it is the sensible thing to do, it is the strategic thing to do, it is the right thing to do.
Block Island, Connecticut wind farm.
Image Credit: Deepwater Wind/GE
The time to act isn't tomorrow, it was yesterday. Unfortunately, we only have now. If someone looked and saw the world as a series of interconnected systems, it would be evident that the impacts of climate change are already all around Us, even in developed nations like the United States. examples include Increased food prices from drought in the southwest, tidal flooding in Miami, permafrost erosion under villages in Alaska, and even the middle east refugee crisis that has stressed so many nations security.
Moving ahead, we as a species must decide how we will act. we must decide how we want our children to live. arguably, we live in the most important time in our species history. in the coming century we, based on our actions in these few crucial years ahead, will either rise to beat ourselves or fall to our own mistakes. I choose to rise. What will you choose?