And so it goes… We have talked about it, we have fought against the very notion; we have watched without believing; we have gambled that we knew better, and now we can see the results of our inability to consider scientific facts. Indeed, they are self-evident. It is now time to change!
We have been warned! The scientific community has sent us an enormous amount of information in the last decades. They have raised the flag of our worldwide challenge, telling us we needed to act to avoid a global crisis and attempt to minimize the results our indifference created. But humanity is blind because we only see what we want to see. Amidst leadership inertia in all domains from governments to companies and individuals, as well as the outlandish notions we can also account for, our world tragically faces “a widespread, rapid and intensifying climate change with some trends that are now irreversible, at least within a certain time frame,” expressed the UN Secretary-General António Guterres as he called for a Code Red For Humanity. “The alarms bells are deafening and the evidence irrefutable,” he continued.
Specifically, what does it mean? Let’s take a closer look at what we now face.
Stabilization, Not For A Long Time
It would take 20 to 30 years to stabilize global temperature unless we want to face the destruction of many species, perhaps even including ourselves. We witness the changes daily across the globe, i.e., heatwaves, fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, tropical cyclones, and rising sea levels. Each weather pattern is increasing in frequency and strengths, and the tie-in to human influence is stronger than ever.
Maybe this little tidbit of information can trigger awareness: rising sea levels are irreversible for centuries or millennia. How about that? And we are doing it to ourselves. So, here it is, our beautiful blue planet is in crisis and warming daily, which will destroy our ecological system. It is suggested by the UN report IPCC AR6 that we should see a rise of 1.5 degrees in temperature within five years across the globe.
Global Weather Extremes
So, while we see more frequency and a higher intensity level with heat extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation in some areas, we also contemplate agricultural and ecological droughts in other regions. We further witness hurricanes and tropical storms and the reduction of the Arctic sea ice, snow cover, and permafrost at such a rapid pace that it is frankly scary when we look at what we are doing to our environment.
We face increasing heat waves, longer hot seasons, and shorter cold seasons in the next decades. One might say, “Okay, so what?” in practical terms, at 2 degrees more, it will affect agriculture and food supply worldwide. These will cause price increases to pass on to consumers globally. Essentially, it further will affect the critical tolerance threshold in terms of health for us, animals, and plants. So, I guess we need to prepare to live indoors more and relinquish enjoying the outdoors. Isn’t this a shame?
The natural production of water or water cycle is also affected, creating a ripple effect. The report predicts “Extreme sea-level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.” Changes to the ocean include acidification and lower oxygen levels, which we expect to continue for at least the rest of this century. Effectively, we are killing our oceans’ health and destroying all life in the process. Whoopy us!
The reality is that at 1.5°C global warmings, heavy precipitation, and associated floodings are projected to intensify and be more frequent in most regions in Africa and Asia (high confidence), North America (medium to high confidence), and Europe (medium confidence). We are reshaping the map of our world, and not for the best.
Several things are now clear… Among them are:
- Human influence on the climate system is now an established fact
- Observation of substantial global warming to date is substantiated
- Paleoclimate evidence – substantial changes unprecedented in centuries or millennia
- Since 2012, strong warmings have been observed, with the past five years (2016–2020) being the hottest five-year period in the instrumental record since at least 1850 (high confidence)
- The magnitude of climate system response
- Improved constraints on projections of future climate change – the assessed future change in surface temperatures are consistent
- Air quality – primarily by precursor emissions, including methane shows higher pollution
- Global water cycles – human-caused climate change has driven detectable changes in the global water cycle
Whereas we may have had doubts in the past, science relays to all of us that these shifts are real and not going away without our help. We must intercede for our planet.
Hot Hot Hot for Cities
Some scientists have predicted that by 2050, 47 of our world cities will become unlivable, and here are a few of them:
- More than 3.3 million Miami residents could face catastrophic flooding by 2100.
- New Orleans could be underwater as well.
- Chicago could face fatal heatwave at any time.
- Summer temperature in Dubai could reach 113 degrees.
- The daily temperature in Abu Dhabi could become unbearable.
- Large areas of Jakarta, Indonesia, could be underwater.
- Shanghai, China, could see deadly high temperatures by 2070.
- Beijing smog could threaten health and livability.
- New Delhi, India, could see increase headaches and nausea due to smog and heatwaves.
- Floods strip away available land in Bangladesh.
- Lagos, Nigeria, faces the threat of sea level.
- The Persian Gulf may be too hot for human survival by 2090.
- New York City will be impacted by flooding.
- Phoenix, Arizona, is expected to have a temperature over 100 degrees for over 136 days.
- Los Angeles, CA, faces rising temperature, increased fires, rising sea levels, and considerable risks to city water supply due to droughts, affecting agricultural output.
- Honolulu, Hawai, is prone to the effects of rising sea levels by at least three feet by the end of the century, affecting roads and beaches.
- Rising sea levels will affect Hi Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Bangkok, Thailand, Shangai, China, Mumbi, India, Alexandria, Egypt, Basra, Iraq.
Urgent Commitment by Nations
Limiting climate change depends entirely on reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and reaching net-zero CO2 emissions. It is a goal we can achieve if only… Humans would agree on this process and act on it. Not so simple, although fundamentally essential. We no longer have the time for debates. We must act. While certain things are now irreversible, we still can avoid the worst. But, now, it also requires an adaptation for all of us.
Early warning signals must be taken into account. Water services will become more critical for affected areas and are still yet to be effectively defined around the globe.
So what do we do?
If we continue with so little care, we will lose our planet. I guess it is up to every one of us to really wake up and take action. Did you know that the next generations are already looking at buying land in areas that are more likely to withstand climate change? An entire generation is already concerned about adapting and surviving the onslaught we are creating for our environment. Should that not produce enough incentive to push our governments and companies to act now in each of us?
As humans, we can be incredibly focused and resourceful. Still, we can also be terribly short-sided, focusing on immediacy and returns on investment to the detriment of a bigger picture. Where will we go when our air is no longer breathable and can no longer sustain us? Will we wear a mask every time we have to go out? I can already see the uproar. We have a pandemic, and 40% of the US population fights against it, risking dying rather than wearing them. What will you do when the weather is so hot that it kills animals and plants alike on the surface of our beautiful blue planet or when moving outdoors is so uncomfortable that running errands or enjoying a stroll will occur in underground compounds and ready-made parks? Will you like it better than sitting by a burbling stream on a warm summer day? What will you risk to see a real sky and feel the wind on your face and grass under your feet while running in a prairie surrounded by bushes and trees?
Maybe all of this forewarning will be for nothing. Perhaps we are far too inclined to ignore things that are not materially affecting us today. I guess we will archive what was once of our world and refer to it on tablets for generations to eventually understand what it used to be like living on Earth. Only the future will tell if it is enough of a life.
Written By Dominique Luchart, Author & Futurist