Recently, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report many experts believed to be grim news; U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called it “code red for humanity.”
According to the IPCC, Earth could see more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming in the coming years if action is not taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
As time goes on, it seems the impacts of climate change are subtly becoming increasingly tangible — natural disasters have become more frequent, intense and devastating, and many places across the world are seeing unprecedented changes in their climate — and the consequences for these changes affect infrastructure and lives.
In the midst of such news, it’s easy to become disheartened. This is especially true for younger generations: It’s hard to feel hope or be excited for the coming decades when the future seems bleak and dangerous.
It’s important to take news like this into consideration. But when it comes to these kinds of reports, the potential for things to improve and the potential for crisis to be averted are often overlooked.
According to the BBC, Guterres said combining forces, climate catastrophe could still be averted. Whether it be dedicating monetary efforts toward saving the environment or placing an emphasis on green energy, we have the resources we need to make the environment healthier and more sustainable.
Changes like these take time; we may not immediately be able to see an impact, but we can make a start. Over time, the positive changes we make can accumulate and make a bigger difference.
Already, we saw something similar on a smaller scale during lockdowns, which prompted many to stay home. According to NBC, global carbon emissions dropped a record 7 percent in 2020 from the year prior.
Wildlife and plants began to return to places usually occupied by people, showing just how resilient nature is, even in the face of extreme pollution, heavy usage of natural resources, carbon emissions and more.
However, it’s also important that we take these concerns and the need for immediate action seriously. Too often, issues like these temporarily gain traction and become a trending topic for a few weeks or months, then slip away again. According to Conservation.org, what sets this report apart is how extensive it is. Not only does it include data from thousands of studies, but scientists from 195 countries had to agree on the data and what was outlined in the report, which demonstrates an incredible amount of consensus and emphasizes the magnitude of the problem. In the face of such urgency, it’s important we don’t let this become another topic that slips away until it’s too late. We may still have hope for the future, but in many ways, time is running out.
That doesn’t have to mean the future for ourselves and our environment is bleak, nor does it mean there’s nothing more that can be done.