Every week, I tell myself, “hey Octavian, write something more cheerful so you don’t fucking depress your readers.”
And every week I’m like, nope, I gotta write about this, because it’s more important.
In the last month, I noticed an eerie trend of articles, reports and analyses on climate change – and I’m not talking about the “oh, maybe we should pay attention to this, lol” kind of text we’ve gotten used to, but the “oh god, it’s so much worse, we are so fucked if we carry on like this. Fo reals this time guys!”
So what’s changed? Why all of a sudden are people starting to notice that we might actually be in trouble? I can even hear those discussions myself. Between colleagues, on the street, at bus stations, at social gatherings; the word is out.
Humanity’s Most Epic Promise
At the tip of this existential threat is the biggest procrastination example ever in the history of humankind: the Paris Agreement, a unified pact between nations around the world promising that they’ll change their ways to reduce pollution and their carbon footprint. The goal: keeping a global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Right, so how are we doing?
Well, as it turns out, not good at all. In a recent report compiled by some of the world’s leading scientists, titled The Truth Behind the Climate Pledges, it shows just how off the mark we really are in keeping those pledges.
“An analysis of current commitments to reduce emissions between 2020 and 2030 shows that 75 per cent of the climate pledges are partially or totally insufficient to contribute to reducing GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and some of these pledges are unlikely to be achieved,” the report states. Oh but this gets better. “Of the 184 climate pledges, 36 were deemed sufficient (19 per cent), 12 partially sufficient (6 per cent), 8 partially insufficient (10 per cent) and 128 insufficient (65 per cent).” Let that sink in for a sec; one-twenty-eight were insufficient. The report also points out that because climate pledges are voluntary, technicalities, loopholes and other “conditions” continue to “postpone decisive global action to reduce emissions and address climate change.”
75 per cent of the climate pledges are partially or totally insufficient to contribute to reducing GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2030
You can read the full 30-page report here, but essentially what all that means is that very little, or in many cases, nothing, has been really done to turn around our planet’s vengeance against us.
I mean, we don’t even need a report to tell us that. Just look outside. Watch the news. This year alone, extreme weather has been felt world-wide, from brutal typhoons tearing up Japan and other parts of Asia, to massive, out-of-control wildfires consuming entire chunks of California, to outbreaks of tornadoes in the American Midwest.
The data, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that May 2019 eclipsed May 2003 for the most reported May tornadoes on record.
We now have to add the word “super” in front of every storm and extreme weather phenomenon, because gone are the days when a typhoon was just a typhoon, or a tornado was a tornado. Everything’s dialed up.
Who’s Laughing Now
I remember in high school, circa 2003 or so, we used to laugh about Al Gore and all the greenies and their electric cars and climate change banter; we didn’t know any better, and our education system neither addressed or opened any window to the reality that humanity has been killing this planet this whole time – mind you, the world wasn’t as woke then as it is today in 2019, but still.
Thing is, every time climate change came into any discussion, it was often treated like the kid crying wolf; it was ridiculed, mocked and downplayed by so many people for so long that to this day, not everyone takes it seriously. Climate change entered the public psyche as a fallacy, a myth, not as the existential threat that it is.
Some even went a step further. Take, for example, the “fake news” (fuck I hate this term so much) master himself, Mr. Donald J. Trump. Yes, the slapped orange who repeatedly called climate change a fabrication and a lie, spread by no other than the big evil fake news media and the fake journalists (as a prime rule of Trumpism, if you say something and he disagrees with it, then it has to be fake).
Trump took his stand on climate change straight to Paris, officially announcing that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accords in 2020; a decision as ludicrous and as idiotic as the man himself. That’s a pretty big slap in the face, considering about 8 in 10 Americans are now convinced human activity is contrubiting global warming.
The ‘why should I care, it’s not happening to me’ argument
Look, this isn’t about something happening in one part of the world or another. It’s not even about you or about me, personally. It’s about climate change happening everywhere; our planet and its ecosystems depend on each other, even if they are tens of thousands of kilometers apart. Oceans, air currents, forests, deserts, tundras and glaciers, mountains, rivers, lakes, they all talk. If one is sick, the other gets affected in one way or another, even if it’s not immediately noticeable.
The most obvious one is the rising sea level, which threatens to wipe out entire coastlines and swallow up coastal cities by the 2050s. That means less land to cultivate, less space to live in, more crowded urban areas and a bigger shortage of food supplies (that’s a problem, because we’ll be pushing nine billion people by 2030). Fresh water is also at risk from disappearing ice caps, lakes and rivers, which not only threatens us humans, but all the other animals living in these ecosystems, from wildlife who rely on vegetation, clean water and sustainable fresh water levels (such as salmon) that need rivers to be able to reproduce and survive.
So, yeah, even if it’s not happening to you right this very moment, it will happen at some point, or even worse to your kids or grandkids in the coming decades; after all, this is the broken world we’re handing over to next generations, so what can anybody expect.
That’s kind of the funny thing in all this; the planet doesn’t give a shit about what you or I think, or any of the politics. It’s just doing its thing, with or without us insects stuck on its back.
Difficult Future Ahead
As it currently stands, we’re already kind of past the point of no return here. That’s just the reality. Any attempt to turn a climate-change-induced end to our existence requires us all to truly band together and take some serious action.
Take existing policies, methods and technologies, such as recycling, renewable energy, electric vehicles, water conservation, food conservation, reducing meat consumption, plastic cleanup in oceans – and so on – and dial it all up to 300%. That means no more coal-fired or nuclear power plants, no more internal-combustion engines, no more water pollution and waste dumped in the oceans, no more disposal of electronics, severe implementation of water restrictions, mandated climate change education and programs, strict fishing and hunting regulations… the list goes on.
And that, finally, begs the big universal question: are we willing to sacrifice a few luxuries in our lives and make a genuine effort to save this planet? Or are we just getting really good at predicting our own doom through science fiction?
Only time will tell.