For all the immediate challenges we seek to address as a continent- terrorism, instability, inequality, disease, poverty, hunger- there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.
Indeed, the relentless rise in global atmospheric temperatures, driven by the greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel combustion and other human activities, is the root cause of a host of challenges facing the planet and bedevilling humanity. Itself is a highly complex physical phenomenon, involving a host in intertwining physical, chemical and biological systems, climate change and its multitude of impacts demand a multifaceted response from us.
Sure, we have facts, on climate change, the number of trees cut, people who pass on due to floods, hunger due to drought and the amount of CO2 on the atmosphere from our embracing industrialization without factoring in the climate. The good news is we can buy oxygen, well the venture is not yet in Africa.
So much exists in paperwork, yet so little is done on the same. Climate action is the gateway to achieving all the other sustainable development goals. Let me break it down for you. A warming world exacerbates society’s inequalities; how it effects (rising waters, deluges, and droughts) fall disproportionately on those who are the least responsible for its causes. Everything for the underprivileged only goes from bad to worse. A slow drip of climate change can make us complacent and lock us into the very habits that are precipitating the collapse of our planet leading to more inequalities yet we are supposed to achieve equality by 2030.
Our global climate crisis- part of an encompassing environmental disaster that includes staggering pollution and biodiversity loss-is a case in point. It ultimately affects the lives of every human being. The health of most people is at risk from the same. Children under 5 especially are prone to precipitates from the atmosphere and natural disasters that are sometimes man driven lead to deaths of some children from a tender age.
Our response to climate action has been political, way below the scope of what is needed to save our generations and future generations. Corporations have shed crocodile tears about reducing their carbon footprint. Fossil fuel giants, hedging their bets with some investments in renewables, are still relentlessly pursuing the ultimate goal- get all of it out of the ground, sell it, and burn it.
The result? The percent of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to rise. The year 2018 set a record year for annual greenhouse gas emissions- all this in spite of the brave and dedicated work of various businesses and organizations such as Green Peace o reduce climate crisis.
So how do we respond to all this?
First by Anger. To say as loudly as possible that this crime of environmental ruin is putting our entire civilization at risk. As well, there is fear for a future that is deeply in doubt; and grief for what has been lost.
Reading facts and carrying out research on the damaged areas will not do much per se but action on climate change as the sustainable development goals calls for is what is required.
It may take decades, even centuries- if at all- before humanity may learn environmental values; respect for ecosystems, modesty in consumption, great care in the implementation of technology, and that community and personal virtues are the sources of true well-being. To cope with the changing conditions, we need to understand and act on the processes that impact climate negatively and ultimately us. No other sustainable goal will matter in a world that is faced by the negative effects of climate change.
The world needs more Greta Thunberg’s, that is You and I