Opinions, Politics

A globe on fire

Parts of Europe are experiencing the hottest temperatures ever recorded. Major cities in India are finding themselves completely without water leaving the country to turn to using trains and tankers to ferry water in. Surgeons are being forced to buy water for their work just to maintain something resembling normalcy in a country of over 1.3 billion people.

These are to say nothing of worsening storm seasons, melting ice caps and rising sea levels.

There is a clear scientific consensus that human activities are accelerating climate change and exacerbating these changes.

The world is on fire, and we are doing far too little. 

Image: Earth's long-term warming trend can be seen in this visualization of NASA's global temperature record, which shows how the planet's temperatures are changing over time, compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980.                                                                                                                                           NASA.gov

Climate change represents an existential threat for the planet. And while reducing your carbon footprint to help combat it is helpful, it is a drop in the bucket.

Sure, reducing your consumption of products like beef and limiting energy use is helpful, but governments and massive multinational corporations drive the vast majority of pollution released.

The idea that we can do much of anything on the personal, or even local, level to create a noticeable impact is at best optimistic and at worst a distraction from the real problem.

That is not to say that nothing can be done, we simply need to refocus our environmental priorities onto the political rather than the personal. While incremental, personal improvements do help, we are trying to fix a minute element of the problem.

If humanity continues polluting at its current rate, millions of people could be displaced by rising temperatures, rising sea levels and drought. That is to say nothing of the countless who will certainly die in these extreme weather events.

The American Meteorological Society projects that global temperatures could rise between 6.3 and 13.3 degrees farenheit in the next 100 years. This would drastically increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. 

This in conjunction with the policies of nations like Brazil, China and Russia, many of the major forces in the global economy are doing nothing the prevent this global degradation.

In the case of Brazil increasing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest for farmland has claimed several hundred million square miles of land.

Compared to this, someone overwatering their lawn can seem a little minor. While we should curtail this wasteful behavior, choosing to eat water efficient crops is a more effective solution.

It can be frightening staring down the barrel of a future where vast swaths of the planet are unlivable and feeling like there is nothing you can do. However, there are steps that can be taken outside of the personal. 

Contact your local congressperson, let them know that climate change is a major concern and that steps need to be taken to limit its impact. Reduce consumption of meat and try to eat more locally. 

Whatever we do, we need to do it fast. We are on the verge of things getting very bad very quickly. For all the people who will be left homeless, destitute or dead. 

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