It seems fitting that while I’m writing this piece I’m listening to the Fallout 4 soundtrack. I know that the wasteland was not a result of climate change but nuclear war, same thing, and the soundtrack is amazing so there. (Side note: I’m so exciting about this game and desperate to play it but I’m too poor. Can you smell my desperation!? Can you!?) Anyway, that’s a whole other post by itself so I’ll potter along.
Two days ago I stumbled upon an article the BBC published gravely stating that the planet was set to exceed the 1 degree threshold in 2015. With 2 degrees considered to mark “dangerous warming” it would seem that the planet is warming faster than anticipated. There is some uncertainty as to the accurate rise in the earth’s temperature because there are no records from the 1750’s, when the industrial revolution commenced and fossil fuels began to be widely used, to the 1850’s. As a result scientists only have data from the 1850’s onwards but if anything that should concern us even more. We can no longer ignore climate change or consider it as just the earth naturally shifting as it had done in previous eras. How can anyone think that the emissions we put into the air on a daily basis is having no effect? The problem with climate change is that it won’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process which makes it easier to ignore for some countries. It’s like a smoker who begins smoking at a young age and ignores the health risks that they are told they will suffer because for them 50 is a million years away. They think they are invincible. Humans think they are invincible. If it doesn’t affect us directly little will be done about it. It’s a selfish reaction – we don’t think about our children or grandchildren and how they will remember the past generation in disgust for what we have allowed to happen to such a beautiful planet.
The countries that are beginning to feel the affects of climate change are the “third world” countries. It would seem that the weakest countries, thus who contribute less to global warming will be the ones to suffer first. The “first world” are once again allowing poorer regions and countries to suffer for their mistakes. In East Africa, electricity consumption per person is a tiny 92 kilowatt-hours per year. Americans burn through that much electricity every two and a half days. (Huffington Post, 1/20/2015). That’s just one example of the climate change gap that exists between rich and poor nations. Yet the former is having to deal with the consequences. These countries that are attempting to grow and will be severely thwarted by having to fight climate change while promoting economic growth. That is not to say they will remain completely outside of the problem. As these countries continue to grow they too will contribute to global emissions and the rapid warming of the planet. After all, fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy to run on.
China, the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases have a quarter of the population that live on less than 2 dollars a day. (Huffington Post) Despite it’s growth there are still a shocking number of people straddling the poverty line. There needs to be a move away from fossil fuels while still alleviating the poverty crisis’ in these countries. Climate change will only serve to increase people who fall under the poverty line as resources become more scarce. It is thought that South Asia will fall victim to lower crop yields and as a result higher food prices due to global warming. (BBC)
And this is all without touching on the health implications of climate change. If nothing else makes us stand up and take notice at the very least that should. Maybe we have to appeal to humanity selfishness to solve the crisis. Forget about how it will affect the ecosystem or people who you cannot see, let us focus on how it’s affecting you or your children right now and children yet to be born. Breathing in such toxic fuels undoubtedly has an effect on the growing foetus with rates of asthma have risen among children, especially those in cities. Emissions will affect the growing foetus in other ways too. Rates of cancer are rising from the endless flooding of toxic gases that we breath in on a daily basis. Few people live in countries where the air is actually pure. Everyone in Ireland always says the west of the country has the cleanest air yet it’s still polluted, how could it not be?
Maybe the only way to get the attention of world leaders is to outline the situation in terms of how much money it will cost the healthcare system, a system already strained in most places due to the global down turn. WHO states that global warming will increase the risk of air borne diseases. Malaria will also increase significantly which already kills 600,000 people a year, mainly children. It will also cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38 000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48 000 due to diarrhoea, 60 000 due to malaria, and 95 000 due to childhood under-nutrition. (WHO). Again as we can see, this will effect “third world” countries quicker than “first world” but we are already slower beginning to feel it take hold.
The island nations are also at a higher risk from rising see levels which prompted them to demand in the 2009 climate change meeting in Copenhagen that the mark be set for 1.5 degrees. As sea levels rise these countries will be more prone to flooding while other countries will suffer droughts and monsoons. The meeting fell apart however as countries couldn’t come to a consensus. It has taken 19 years (1996-2015) for them to make a decision on where the line should be drawn. That doesn’t give us a whole lot of reassurance for this crisis to be tackled quickly. Ordinary people need to be educated more about it, to be shown just the future we are facing if we do nothing. Newspapers barely report on this issue mostly because they have been repeated the same story for the last ten years, like war, people become desensitised to hearing it because they are not directly experiencing it. They read about it and think “Oh what a shame” then move on with their lives, thinking about it only for a moment. Maybe it shouldn’t be given such a soft name as “climate change”. That makes it seem less of a problem than it is or a problem that can be fixed overnight.
Climate change is going to effect every inch of our lives in such detrimental ways we can only imagine. Nothing will be spared. Hopefully the climate change meeting this month will bring us some good news. While we are dealing with very serious issues at this moment like terrorists threats and economic issues we must give time to tackle climate change too. We can no longer afford to twiddle our thumbs on this issue and pretend that we have all the time in the world to fix it. With every passing day that we do nothing we our assisting and encouraging our own annihilation passing the point of no return.