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.

Niveditha Bala is a freshman at the University of Texas at Dallas. Contact her at balaniveditha@gmail.com.

(5) comments

Dennis McQuillan

Here is the August 2021 National Academies of Science finding that "Global warming is contributing to extreme weather events." https://www.nationalacademies.org/based-on-science/climate-change-global-warming-is-contributing-to-extreme-weather-events

Mike cites an excellent paper but, contrary to his assertion, the paper did not analyze the effects of increasing carbon dioxide and temperature on extreme weather events. Figure 1 of the paper actually shows that severe events have been increasing over the last 2.5 decades. The paper also shows that wealthy populations are better able to protect themselves from these increasing severe events than are less-wealthy and poor populations. The paper suggests, "that poorer countries remain particularly vulnerable to these hazards and that huge investments or changes in these societies may be needed to further reduce their vulnerability to them." This finding illuminates global environmental injustice and the need for affluent societies to do more to help protect vulnerable societies from the hazards of our warming climate.

Robert Fields

Excellent post, Dennis!

Mike Johnson

You really should educate yourself on the empirical data about climate events, damage, deaths, etc. over time as compared to increasing CO2 and the 1.1 degree C of temperature rise since 1870. There is nothing to be concerned about here, there is no correlation between increasing CO2 and temps and the number, severity, duration, or damage from weather events. This peer-reviewed, published scientific study shows that:

"Highlights

We quantified the dynamics of socio-economic vulnerability to climate-related hazards.

A decreasing trend in both human and economic vulnerability is evident.

Global average mortality and loss rates have dropped by 6.5 and nearly 5 times, respectively, from 1980 to 1989 to 2007–2016.

Results also show a clear negative relation between vulnerability and wealth."

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378019300378

Robert Fields

The wicked witch of the west is here telling everyone to sleep. Poppies will put them to sleep, huh, Mike?

“There is nothing to be concerned about here, there is no correlation between increasing CO2 and temps and the number, severity, duration, or damage from weather events.”

That’s one big steaming pile of excrement, Mike. Very impressive.

If only it was true but it’s a flat out lie that is easily fact checked. There is a direct correlation now between CO2 levels, global temperatures, and weather events.

https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming-vs-climate-change/

Mike, why is it so important to you to lie every opportunity you get and tell people things that are disproven and debunked? The science is settled.

We know the atmospheric increases in CO2 are from fossil fuels due to material balance studies and isotope ratio measurements. We know that increased CO2 causes heating from infrared spectroscopy fundamentals, the climate record, and computer modeling that accurately predicts global temperatures. We know CO2 and global temperatures are increasing just from simple measurements. Statisticians have sorted out how much of climate and weather evens can be attributed to our use of fossil fuels.

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-temperature

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide

https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/weather-climate

Everything fits. The planet is heating due to our use of fossil fuels and that is causing more frequent and more severe weather events. Period.

You should stop lying.

Robert Fields

Absolutely. We can make a difference. But we also can’t lose sight of the urgency to act. We’ve already locked in the current level of global warming. The chaotic weather we have now is what we are stuck with for generations. And, because we aren’t at equilibrium, things are going to continue getting worse for decades regardless of what we do.

Which is why it’s urgent to act now so that 20-30 years from now we see the effects begin to stop getting worse. That’s the hard part to all of this and why it’s so hard for people to understand. Our actions today have little effect now but can make all the difference in the future.

Another reason for younger folks to get on board - besides this being your planet and what your lives will depend on - is just economics. The trends now are for the fossil fuel supply to get more constrained and expensive. It’s just smart to prepare for a future where you don’t get caught up in the death of an industry so ingrained into the American way of life.

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