August 4, 2018 by Cláudia
What more and more politicians and economists are realizing is that climate change is more than an environmental problem – it is a social problem. It will mean millions of people without a land, trillions of dollars of catastrophe-related losses, loss in agricultural productivity, caused by unpredictable weather, spreading of tropical diseases and extreme weather conditions just to name a few changes that are already in motion and will be intensified in the near future. We are entering an era so marked by change that I am convinced Humankind is about to face the biggest challenge we have ever faced. At the very least, it is a global challenge that will make us question most of what we take for granted in our daily lives and our way of living.
In order to understand the scope and magnitude of the problem, we need to understand what scenarios we may be facing. I say we may be facing, and this is important, because we are talking about probabilities. The truth is that a large part of our future remains unknown. Scientists have agreed on a +2ºC limit compared with pre-industrial temperatures, beyond which they claim consequences will be too extreme to be predicted. We must, therefore, do whatever is in our power to prevent the temperatures to rise more than this limit, even though +2ºC will still have an immense disruptive effect on our society – scientists predict (conservatively) 150 million climate refugees, entire countries submerged by water and extreme weather conditions, such as massive wildfires, droughts and floods.
In order to remain under the “safe” limit, we need to not only stop greenhouse gas emissions but to start taking GHG from the atmosphere by 2050. The image shows different scenarios and how current policies are not enough to reach the goal we need. What is clear is that we are way beyond individual changes and market solutions. We need coordinated integrated and global commitment to the reduction of GHG emissions.
Governments have consecutively proven disappointingly unable or unwilling to deal with this challenge effectively. Instead of lowering GHG emissions, Governments all around the world are still subsiding and favouring fossil fuel industries, deforestation and intensive livestock production, thus increasing GHG emissions. Pressure groups have been sucessful at keeping the Governments accountable and demanding immediate change and we need to do more.
Climate change truly has the potential to make our entire society collapse and destroy what we consider the “civilized world”. But, if we are brave enough, it can open an opportunity to rethink the way our society works and the values it is built upon – and build something better.
We need to take this chance.
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