From the recent scientific reports out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the European Union, it is clear that we are rapidly moving toward disaster. The first IPCC reports stated that we should not go above a 1C rise in overall climate heating. Well we’re there. Now they are saying that we MUST hold to a 2C rise or face disaster. Even a 2C rise in overall climate temperature will cause severe disruption in the environment and many deaths.
We are already seeing the effects of the 1C raise. Superstorm Sandy was a direct effect of ocean warming and the tidal surge from the already 1 foot rise in ocean level in New York. The severity of the drought this summer can also be attributed to global warming. I’ve read that if you are 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder than normal winter. Further statistics tell us that there are already global warming refugees and the Pentagon has identified global warming as a security threat.
Indeed if we hit the 4C mark, which is rapidly approaching – some predictions being by 2050 and others by 2100 – we will have the same level of climate change as that which occurred when the last ice age ended. If we were in an ice age, that might be nice. For us, the consequences will be catastrophic. Even now the oceans are acidifying, affecting shell fish and sea life. We may end up with very few species left in the oceans. Many, many species in the environment will be unable to adapt to such rapid change and go extinct. We will not be able to raise enough food to support the human population by vast amounts. There will be famines and increased disease spread. Many millions of people will die. These are not my predictions but the predictions of cautious scientists.
We MUST go to a carbon-neutral world to even hold the global warming rise to 2C, and then we must begin to reverse the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to stabilize the world’s climate. I have zero faith that the governments meeting in Qatar for the climate conference will do the work that must be done to save this planet from destruction at our hands. Some authors have proposed that cities, like Seattle, must move quickly to carbon-neutral status. One such author, Alex Steffen, has provided some thoughts on how to do that. Others are pushing for a grassroots movement.
Whatever we do, it must be done quickly if we are to survive. Yet, global warming wasn’t part of the U.S. presidential debate, and it doesn’t seem to be on the radar of many governments. I fear our kids, grandkids, and ourselves will suffer greatly for our governments’ neglect and corporate hubris. It’s up to all of us to speak out and demand change from our cities, governments, and corporations – they must all move to carbon neutral status. We need to personally be responsible for the carbon our activities and buying produce. It really is essential.