Will we survive climate change?
We’ve been hearing about the potentially devastating consequences of climate change for a while. Sometimes, the predictions feel like an impending doom; an apocalypse that would leave no one to tell the story. For some countries, the deed is already being done. In 2018, severe drought displaced nearly as many people as conflict, food shortages dealt a heavy blow on some countries, and some governments in affected regions are already planning to evacuate entire communities.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a report that warns us doomsday may be as close as 2040. The world is in danger of raging wildfires, widespread destruction of coral reefs, and record-breaking food shortages if governments do not take drastic steps to mitigate the trend. When you learn about such prognosis, it’s not out of place to ask the big question; ‘would humanity survive climate change?’
Putting things into perspective
The Paris climate agreement of 2015 brought all nations together in the hope of uniting to combat climate change. The goal was to keep the global temperature rise within a 2 degrees Celsius limit. Climate change experts predict that at a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise, about 37% of the world’s population may become vulnerable to extreme heat waves, more than 400 million people may face a severe drought, and some 100 million people may be exposed to flooding. But it appears that’s the best we can do given the current extent of the damage.
We are already at a disadvantage
As of today, none of the major industrialized nations is on track to meet the set goal. The temperature of the earth has already increased by 1-degree Celsius and the current damage may already be irreparable. Even if all governments come together to aggressively pursue the Paris agreement, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is enough to cause harm for many centuries to come.
Everyone needs to understand that giving up is not an option. Some experts already described the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as ‘shocking’. Bill Hare, a contributor to previous I.P.C.C. reports said the recent report is “is quite a shock, and quite concerning,’’ and “we were not aware of this just a few years ago.” If anything, this statement buttresses the fact that predicting the specific effects of climate change is an emerging science. We do not have enough models to help us with the predictions and there’s no historical precedent. However, the general consensus is that the scale of displacement could be far greater than current estimates.
The future looks grim but…
If we continue at this rate, climate change could eat us all up. Indeed some believe it would; people like William T. Vollmann who already published a two-volume commentary directed to the inhabitants of the post-apocalyptic world, detailing how we were all wiped out. However, others like James Hansen, one of the world’s foremost authorities on climate change believe we should be smart enough to make better decisions.
Currently, there is no scientific evidence that predicts a doomsday. But we cannot afford to be complacent. Our actions already caused enough damage. The least we could do is not let our inactions make things worse. If we all see the urgency in cutting greenhouse gas emissions significantly, our planet may just survive many more centuries.