The Climate Crisis

Between September 20th and 27th, there will be climate strikes all over the globe. You can look up your hometown on https://globalclimatestrike.net/ to find a strike location near you.


First, there are a few things we need to get straight about climate change [1].

  1. It’s real
  2. It’s us
  3. Scientists agree
  4. It’s bad
  5. We can fix it

In stating the above facts, I don’t believe that I am being alarmist. Climate change is now a climate crisis that we must take action to divert. The IPCC Special Report released in October 2018 states that the next 12 years are crucial to curbing global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius [4].

“Why is global warming bad?” you might say. “I like summer.”

As ecosystems all over the world are heated at different severities, some places become uninhabitable. Places that are too hot, in severe drought, inundated with floods and severe rain, and perched atop melting permafrost are all places that will become uninhabitable. As these lands become uninhabitable, the residents of those lands will either flee or die. When they flee, we will have unprecedented refugee migration. When they stay in their homes, we will have unprecedented human die-off. The climate crisis will bring about a global apartheid [5]. Those who are wealthy will be able to afford to either relocate somewhere more comfortable, and will be able to afford to keep their homes safe in a location of their choosing. Those who are not will suffer. As always, it will be the poor and the underprivileged who will pay the cost.

And that’s only counting human life as part of the mass extinction. Other members of the animal and plant kingdoms will die as well – mammals, reptiles, insects, fishes, etc [2]. Unless everyone adopts a vegan diet, there is an economic need for those species at least as food. Food insecurity is a real issue around the world already; the climate crisis will exacerbate it.

“Well, it’s not warming here. Our weather has stayed the same!”

When you have a cold, does your whole body hurt? Or does just your head hurt while your nose runs? Not all of your body may experience the symptoms of the illness. The same principle applies to the planet. Global heating is uneven regionally, but reflected equally in the global temperature record [3].

This image shows the annual average temperatures from 1850 to 2018 for the entire planet. A blue stripe indicates a cooler year, while a red stripe indicates a warmer year. The darker the blue or red, the colder or hotter that year [3].
This image shows the annual average temperatures from 1850 to 2018 for just the United States. As you can see, it differs from the image above.
This image shows the annual average temperatures from 1850 to 2018 for just the state of Arkansas. This image is different even from the United States annual averages.
“But scientists aren’t unanimous in their consensus about climate change! Isn’t there a chance that this is all just a big mistake, or at worst, a hoax?”

If 97% of inspectors found that the Brooklyn Bridge was unsafe and unstable for travel, would you risk crossing the bridge in your car? That’s the consensus percentage – 97%. Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that climate change is real, and that it is human-caused. But if you weren’t aware that the consensus percentage was that high, you’re not alone. According to a Yale study, 87% of Americans were unaware of the high level of consensus on climate change [6].

Part of the public’s gap in confidence about the scientific consensus is a lack of knowledge about the scientific community. For your research to be published, it must undergo rigorous review by others in the field. For your research to be validated, it must be reproducible; meaning, another researcher could take your data and your models and plug in the values and get the same results. If your research is reproducible and considered to be of importance to the general public, not just to a specific industry or agency, then scientists share it with the public. Like doctors, scientists have a duty to do no harm. As a result of the process, before research is released to the public, scientists have examined the data hundreds of times before the public ever hears about it.

But… we CAN fix it. There is still hope.

Project Drawdown is a research organization that has compiled about one hundred potential solutions for the climate crisis [7]. Some of the solutions would require major overhaul of current systems (e.g., refrigerant management, high-speed rail, district heating, water distribution), and others are changes that you can make at home to lower your own carbon footprint (e.g., composting, household recycling, LED household lighting, plant-rich diet). More good news: taking on some of the larger solutions will provide jobs, which will boost the economy. Clean energy (e.g., solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, geothermal) jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs three to one in the United States [8].

We’re making progress, but we need to make more progress very quickly.

I mentioned earlier about not considering myself an alarmist, but I do find myself sometimes being a fatalist. A climate fatalist, that is. It’s easy for me to be overwhelmed at everything that is happening and to think that there’s no way we’ll ever veer off-course to a path that’s better than the worst case scenario. I have to content myself with doing what I can right now. I keep as little food in my apartment as possible to reduce food waste, and we keep the apartment at 75 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize energy usage. I am cutting down on single-use plastics, and making the switch to simpler household cleaners. I do my best to bike to work when the weather is nice (it’s very humid in Arkansas, of which I’m not a fan). I take a reusable water bottle and a reusable coffee canteen to work. I bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and utilize the city’s recycling centers. Additionally, I write to my Senators and ask them what they’re doing about the climate crisis, and I vote for candidates who campaign for the environment. On both September 20th and 27th, I will be joining climate strikes in my hometown.

What can you do to do your part for the climate crisis? Don’t lose hope. Climate change is happening, and we’re already feeling it’s impact, but we can still avoid the worst if we act.


Additional Reading:


Sources:

  1. 350.org (https://350.org/science/)
  2. The Extinction Rebellion (https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/the-emergency/)
  3. #ShowYourStripes (https://showyourstripes.info/)
  4. IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C – Summary for Policymakers (https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/)
  5. We’re Headed for a Climate Apartheid (https://www.businessinsider.com/climate-apartheid-united-nations-report-2019-6?utm_content=buffer66138&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer-bi&fbclid=IwAR1-HLzwVte-jJ__w_KIgBiHln3MVKMZ73IsdGYcOj197tUrMZ2ZYaKzFJI)
  6. 87% of Americans Unaware that There’s Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (https://weather.com/science/environment/news/americans-climate-change-scientific-consensus?fbclid=IwAR22cUJUkUVMBNx5Mk_aM4Fz2upDMZzudktz_hwJZAPS5pwX297-2-FdbD4)
  7. Project Drawdown Solutions (https://www.drawdown.org/solutions)
  8. MoneyTalks: Clean Energy Jobs vs Fossil Fuels Jobs (https://cleantechnica.com/2019/03/14/money-talks-us-clean-energy-jobs-outnumber-fossil-fuel-jobs-3-to-1/)

One thought on “The Climate Crisis

  1. I wish to say that I think you are on point in your assessment regarding climate change and what can be done about it. In my view climate change is quite real and has been evident to me even as a child. I am 66 now. It is time for people to wake up and realize that the earth is in trouble. However, there is a fix but we as a global community are running out of time. Thanks you for your article on this very very important issue.

    Liked by 1 person

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