Warning: this is not my typical post. It may be hard to read. It was certainly difficult to write. I don’t want to believe what I’m about to share. But I do. I must. We all must.
Global warming is changing us. We occasionally recognize it in the form of severe flooding, a killer heat wave, or a hurricane that is amongst the largest, strongest & most devastating we’ve seen. But we are quickly headed toward a time in which these and other climate-related catastrophes will be the norm. Because our civilization is doing so much harm so fast, the bits and pieces of news we receive about it are often outdated. And, as for the 2016 Paris Agreement’s goal of maintaining a global temperature of less than 2 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels, we are already over 1 degree warmer. More damage has been done over the past 30 years than in all the rest of humanity’s history.
As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you. Climate change is one of those exceptions. ~Al Gore, Former US Vice-President & Environmentalist
David Wallace-Wells is a journalist who has written extensively on climate change for New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Guardian, and authored the book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, published in 2019. To summarize some of the ideas in his book, if your primary concern is rising sea levels brought about by the melting of the polar ice caps, you should know that there are much more damaging effects in store. All that Arctic ice has kept who-knows-how-much carbon, the main driver of global warming, out of our atmosphere for thousands of years. It has also served to contain bygone diseases, keeping them dormant. Less ice means less reflection of the sun, contributing to even more heat. Increased temperatures can result in more frequent drought, full desertification of some areas, and decreased crop production. Fossil fuel particulate pollution will further contaminate our air & waters. Due to large swathes of land becoming uninhabitable from rising sea levels and sweltering heat, millions may be forced to migrate. And the likelihood these challenges will culminate in increased conflict, both locally and worldwide, is very good. What’s more, continued warming can make the whole of the earth inhospitable to humans, bringing us to extinction.
According to a recent policy paper from Australia’s Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration, there’s a good chance society could collapse as soon as 2050 if serious mitigation actions aren’t taken in the next decade (meaning prior to 2030.) Climate scientists are known to consistently underestimate the severity of what is actually happening, the paper warns.
In a short TED talk, David Wallace-Wells suggests paradigm-changing solutions. He explains science isn’t stopping us from taking action, and neither is technology. We have the tools we need today to begin. Of course, we also have the tools we need to end global poverty, epidemic disease, and the abuse of women as well. Which is why more than new tools, we need a new politics, a way of overcoming all those human obstacles — our culture, our economics, our status quo bias, our disinterest in taking seriously anything that really scares us. Our shortsightedness. Our sense of self-interest. And the selfishness of the world’s rich and powerful who have the least incentive to change anything.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
So, what can you and I do? First of all, we can stop hiding behind the idea that we’re helpless. Examine your choices around activities like eating, shopping, & vacationing, and make changes in ways, big & small, that will result in the wealthy elite benefiting less from your dollars. Don’t vote for political candidates who deny climate change or support environmentally unfriendly industries. If you must continue to eat meat, eat less of it, and buy only from companies that don’t utilize factory farms. Plant more trees, flowers, & shrubs, and grow your own food. Contribute your time or money to environmental causes. Learn & practice indigenous ways. Challenge your family to discover ways to live more sustainably. Strike up tough conversations about global warming with friends. Teach your children and grandchildren the importance of living in a manner that embraces all of life. Write letters to your congress person, or the editor of your newspaper or favorite newsletter. Blog about it. Bring it up on Facebook and Twitter. Share this write-up.
Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air or drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. ~Carl Sagan
If you’ve read this entire post, congratulations and thank you. It’s difficult to read about things that make us uncomfortable. But the truth of these impending dangers can no longer be ignored, denied, or sugar-coated. Some of the negative effects of global warming are already upon us. Our individual lives and our society will suffer dramatically in upcoming years if we don’t begin to do things differently.
Blessings for Speedy Change,
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.