What Is Going On?
We have already caused major climate changes to happen:
- Increasing global temperatures – The average global temperature has increased by one degree celsius over the past 100 years, worsening storms, floods, heat waves, and droughts.
- Shrinking glaciers – Since the mid-1990s, the Arctic region has been warming 2.5 times faster than any other region on Earth, causing 430 billion tons of ice to be shed each year since 2005 (and therefore contributing to rising sea levels).
- Severe storms – Cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes have greatly grown in intensity, resulting in increased rainfall, stronger winds, and larger storm surges during/following these natural disasters.
- Deadlier heat waves and droughts – Record-breaking heat waves and long-lasting droughts have become quite prevalent over the past few decades.
- Exponential loss of species – Harmful human activity has triggered a “mass die-off,” with species going extinct at 10 to 100 times the normal background rate of extinction (one in eight species are endangered).
All of these are effects that scientists predicted in the past. Older generations decided to, for the most part, ignore those warnings, and because of that, we are all now experiencing a foretaste of things to come. We must not commit the same mistake again.
Some Future Consequences:
- By 2100, our greenhouse gas emissions will increase the average global temperature by another three to four degrees celsius, exponentially worsening every other consequence of climate change.
- According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an increase of 1.5°C in global temperatures will result in 70% of the tropical corals upon which 500 million people and a ¼ of marine life depend on will disappear. With an increase of 2°C, all of it will vanish.
- Global warming may also trigger the release of greenhouse gases from natural sources, such as the permafrost in Siberia, further increasing the rate at which the Earth heats up.
- By 2100, sea levels will rise by two meters, after which sea level rise will accelerate and go on for centuries. By 2050, 300 million people will live in flood zones.
Relatively Immediate Solutions:
- Cut subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and instead, give them to the renewable energy industry.
- Harshly tax goods and services that increase carbon emissions. We could even increase the tax each year to create strong incentives for people to transition towards clean energy.
- Enforce strict standards for energy efficiency, prompting innovators and industries to invent new and better technologies that use much less dirty fossil fuel energy.
Unfortunately, yes. Even if we suddenly stopped emitting greenhouse gases, global warming and climate change would still continue to occur for the next few decades. Why? Well, there are two reasons:
- It takes a long time for a planet to “respond” to such changes. After all, nearly every single one of the Earth’s processes is quite lengthy.
- All of the CO2 stuck in the atmosphere stays there for hundreds of years.
As a result, the only thing we can do now is pray that we don’t reach an irreversible tipping point where everything will truly fall apart.