For years now, scientists have been imploring the governing bodies of the world to drastically change how we, as a race, treat the planet we call home. Whether you refer to it as global warming, climate change or the climate crisis, the world is in danger as a direct result of our actions over the years.
An alarming paper published in May by Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, an Australia-based organization, outlines many of the climate-based dilemmas we are faced with, including a prediction for what the world will look like in 2050 on our present course. Spoiler alert: it isn’t pretty.
To anyone who has seen a disaster movie, the description should sound quite familiar. Drastic changes in the environment follow in the wake the international community’s continued indifference, with an increase in global temperature by 3 degrees celsius.
This seems like a small number in a vacuum, but let’s put that in context. An increase from 0 to 3 degrees celsius actually translates to a jump from 32 to 37.4 degrees fahrenheit. This is crucial to keep in mind when looking at the impacts on the Arctic and tundra regions, with melting glaciers and permafrost destroying ecosystems that depend on them.
In addition, where is all of that water from the loss of the Arctic going to go? If you guessed “the ocean,” you win the prize! The paper projects that ocean levels worldwide will rise by 0.5 meters by 2050, with the potential to reach 2-3 meters by 2100.
Think about that. Most of South Florida, with Miami being the most prominent example, sits at about 6.5 feet above sea level on average. In this model, Miami could potentially be a full meter below sea level within 80 years.
On top of all that, the paper predicts numerous other global climate disasters, from perpetual El Niño conditions in Central and South America to heat levels above those where humans can survive in West Africa, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia for as many as 100 days a year.
All of this somehow fails to mention the impact this crisis will have on the societies of the world. Countries in the regions mentioned above are likely to collapse, as the regions will no longer be viable and most of those governments do not have the means to create artificial environments.
So, where does this leave us? Many people have given ideas on this topic, such as the hotly-debated Green New Deal introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bottom line, though, is that change needs to happen on the macro level, not just on an individual basis.
As a young American with a long time on this planet ahead of me, it is incredibly disheartening to see the United States, a country which was built on pioneers, blatantly choosing to ignore such a big problem. If we really want to make this country great, we need to start by taking this crisis seriously and spearheading an effort to save what we have left.