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In a historic speech, Pope Francis recently said the following about climate change: “The time to find global solutions is running out. There is a clear, definite and urgent ethical imperative to act.” The UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon acknowledged “We need to act … There is no Plan B because there is no Planet B.” Barack Obama recently declared “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” PM Narendra Modi stated that “India should guide the world on fighting climate change.”
Most of us have a general idea about what climate change is, but many of us don’t realize that it has the potential to wreck havoc on Earth. In a survey by the World Bank, only 35% of Indians were properly aware of climate change, and only 29% perceived it as a threat.
But here’s something even more frustrating – there are many people around the world who don’t “believe” in climate change. These so-called “climate sceptics” deny the existence of man-made climate change and call global warming a hoax. And what’s more, there are many of them (outside the scientific community, of course).
Now normally such unscientific views wouldn’t matter on the world stage; after all, there are still people who think evolution is a lie, or that the earth is flat, or that gravity doesn’t exist.
The problem here is that many of these climate sceptics are influential politicians. They have power over legislation and opinions. Take the USA for example, where almost an entire political party (the Republican party) denies global warming and uses this denial to bag funding from big corporations (remember, any action against global warming will involve big losses for big industries). Such sceptics are in high places all around the world.
The result? People either underestimate the implications of climate change or reject it as a hoax. 51% of Americans say climate change is a hoax. India thinks similarly – 47% believe it to be a con. The numbers are equally alarming for other big countries like Australia, the UK, Germany, China & Russia.
Here’s the deal:
• Last year – 2014 – was the hottest year in recorded HISTORY.
• The first half of 2015 has already been discovered to be the hottest 6 months in recorded history, and 2015 in on track to dethroning 2014 as the hottest year ever.
• Carbon dioxide levels are rising.
• Glaciers are melting.
• Weather patterns are becoming unpredictable.
• Polar habitats are being destroyed.
• Crop failure is becoming very frequent.
• Skin diseases are on the rise.
• The Ozone layer is depleting.
• Sea levels are rising.
• 9 of the 10 hottest years EVER recorded were in the 21st century.
• Ocean temperatures are rising.
These are just a few of the simplest evidences that point to the reality, danger and urgency of the climate change situation. There are infinite other proofs for the reality of climate change – hard, physical, scientifically tested proof.
Climate change is science, something that doesn’t depend on public opinion. It’s illogical to gather conclusions from a poll on climate change. You might as well ask adults “Is the Earth flat?” or “Is 2 + 3 = 5?” Science is constant because science is the absolute truth. And 97% of scientists concede that global warming is real, is man-made, and threatens the very existence of our species. The influential geochemist James Powell reviewed every major climate change article by scientists published in the last 2 years. He found that only 2 of the 10,883 scientific articles denied the existence of man-made climate change.
We face many problems today, but climate change is the most unique of them all because action against climate change has to be globally coordinated. It’s not like poverty or bad infrastructure where one nation’s government can take care of it without involving many foreign countries. It won’t help if one country imposes subsidies on greenhouse emissions while the others don’t take any action because of the opinion of climate sceptics. Furthermore, climate change is a national security issue. When your natural resources are in danger, your country is in danger.
Time is running out, but our leaders aren’t showing the urgency that warrants this issue. Climate is an angry beast, and we are poking at it with sticks.