The Climate Crisis
With Hurricane Ida leaving a million people without power and wildfires having raged across the Mediterranean during the summer, the IPCC's recent report on climate change has been brought sharply into focus.
Human activity, from endless burning of fossil fuels to catastrophic deforestation, has caused global temperatures to rise. They are rising faster than we originally anticipated, too, especially in the Artic. Rising sea levels, aridity and freak weather are the immediate consequences. In the long term, these will undoubtedly result in flooding and desertification which will lead to the inhabitability of many regions and the displacement of millions of people.
Climate migrants will become commonplace. Just as the developed world's wars and interventions over the last few decades created hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing bloodshed and instability, humanity's lust for energy will create millions of refugees fleeing hunger and thirst.
There have been precious victories in our otherwise troubled journey, however. The timely banning of CFCs helped Earth's ozone layer to repair itself and has prevented an even worse climate catastrophe than the one we are facing.
The world is acting, albeit reluctantly and slowly. The Extinction Rebellion has pressed the issue, as have champions such as the venerable David Attenborough. With collective action, we can help to mitigate some of the disasters which await us.
It is unfortunate, however, that much of the world is oblivious to the fact that the greatest polluters and carbon emitters have been left to continue as they were, seemingly beyond the scope of global accountability. The US military, in particular, has a truly staggering carbon footprint. And with thousands upon thousands of thirsty aircraft and heavy vehicles in constant motion, which will continue to be powered by fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, not to mention the testing and use of environmentally devastating weapons and munitions, it is not possible to address the crisis before us without bringing pressure to bear on this most culpable of institutions.
We all have our part to play in this uniquely global challenge. It will affect every single on of us, directly or indirectly. There is something we can all do. Yes, we can shrink our individual carbon footprints and make better choices, but we must also challenge those institutions and corporations whose actions threaten us all.
Billionaires spending obscene amounts of money flying into space won't help us deal with the climate emergency. Neither will electric cars if the energy they run off is still produced by burning fossil fuels or desecrating the natural world (mining lithium for their batteries is currently a hugely destructive process which also uses unbelievable amounts of precious water). More education, more discussion, more research and more willingness to act decisively and effectively are required.
Most of all, though, this unprecedented challenge gives us, as a species, the unprecedented opportunity to work together, to act collectively, to put aside borders and differences and unite to tackle a global threat which affects us all.