We have seen it all in the last decade — hotter temperatures where the temperature had before been mild.
In fact, the last decade is said to be the warmest on record. It will also interest you to know that each decade has been progressively warmer since the 1980s.
How about more severe, more intense, more destructive storms? In the last decade, we have recorded hundreds of thousands of homes, communities and trillions of dollars lost to typhoons, hurricanes, and cyclones.
For instance, Hurricane Harvey (2017) shares the record with Katrina (2015) for being the costliest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic, both resulting in approximately $125 billion in property damage. In particular, Hurricane Harvey resulted in more than 100 deaths – 68 direct deaths and 39 indirect but related deaths.
Let’s move on to increased drought. Water is becoming scarcer and scarcer in more and more regions. Deserts are expanding, thus reducing the land we have to grow food, and in a world already hammered by inadequate food supply!
What about the warming, rising ocean? Ocean warming and melting ice sheets are causing sea levels to rise, threatening islands and coastal communities and endangering marine life and coral reefs.
What if I told you that we risk the loss of one million species to extinction within the next few decades? These species are at risk because of the increased forest fires, extreme weather, invasive pests, and diseases related to climate change.
The list goes on and on. The effects of climate change are glaring, staring us all in the face. Climate change has become the new Armageddon, the time of a final and conclusive battle between the forces of good and evil (Miriam Webster Dictionary).
For many in this generation, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find the words “climate change” and “Armageddon” in the same sentence. Because believe it or not, climate change is upon us; it is the new war that we are all fighting, whether we have consciously put our helmets into the fray or not.
Climate change means long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. While these shifts can be and are sometimes natural, human activities (primarily due to burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas) have been the main driver of climate change since the 1800s. Burning fossil fuels produces greenhouse gas emissions that blanket the earth. This traps the sun’s heat and raises temperatures.
Energy, agriculture, industry, buildings, transport, and land use are among the main emitters of greenhouse gas.
Research shows that it could take us as long as 1,000 years after a complete stop of greenhouse gas emissions for the ocean surface temperature and the sea level to return to pre-industrial levels.
We are also unlikely to keep global warming below 2.7° Fahrenheit in this century without dramatic action in the next few decades.
Reversing the evil effects of climate change can only be done after a long period, and the task may seem daunting, too daunting for anybody to want even to try.
However, it is important to know that doing nothing only makes climate change worse, and while our best maybe just a drop in the ocean of change, it is still something.
If we all play our part in doing little things, our little things could add to becoming something significant.
Yes, we cannot stop global warming overnight, but we can jointly slow the rate and limit the amount.
Much of the work lies in the hands of governments, who need to develop policies and deploy growth choices that help reduce the drivers of climate change.
According to World Bank President Kim, governments must institute clear policies that price carbon; end fossil fuel subsidies; build low-carbon, resilient cities; implement climate-smart agriculture; and nurture forest landscapes.
While most of us will not find ourselves in the driving seat of policy change, we can do our own part in reversing climate change. We can cut back on flying, leave our cars behind now and then (cycle or walk), reduce energy use, eat less dairy and meat, plant a tree (or trees), avoid products with a lot of packaging, use less hot water, and respect green spaces.
Beyond all of these, you and I owe it to future generations to continue learning about climate change and educating ourselves on how and where we can make a difference. And then go ahead to make that difference.
Maybe, just maybe, climate change and Armageddon would no longer be mentioned in the same sentence.
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Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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