Sunday, March 30, 2014

Global warming dials up our risks, UN report says--- Seth Borenstein, AP


The most recent United Nations' report about the dire global warming situation the international community faces came out Monday, saying that unless carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gas emissions are greatly reduce in the next few years, effects of the temperature increase will become catastrophic. In addition to the more than 12,000 specialists who contributed to the United Nation report, President Obama, Senator John Kerry and the International Panel on Climate Change unanimously agree with the message of impending disaster. The report states that within the next century, without any change in gas-emissions, the average global temperature will rise 7 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than the hoped for, less drastic 2 degree increase that was previously anticipated. In the next one hundred years with such climate fluctuations, countries across the globe will see massive, deadly heat waves, wildfires, and droughts, all of which will endanger the already rapidly destabilizing ecosystem, and increase famine, poverty, and introduce new stressors to the international human populations. Financial crises, disease, and possibly even threats to world peace will become more and more common as climate change destroys people's livelihoods, environments, and hope for the future. Already impoverished regions, including many African countries, will bear the brunt of the burden as heat builds across the globe. As of now, China, the United States, and India are the world's top three carbon dioxide producers. It is believed by the scientific community that the recent superstorms which have ravaged the eastern United States coastline, and various other typhoons and hurricanes are all results of these high carbon dioxide emissions. Overall, though scientists agree that much damage has already been done on the ozone layer and to ecosystems and oceans, there is still a window of opportunity for the global community to make the much-needed policy changes to induce the reversal of the adverse effects. However, time is, certainly, of the essence.

Though I am someone who typically remains rather skeptical of claims about imminent global catastrophes as a result of anthropogenic climate change, even I have to admit the recent UN report of near-future disaster on an international scale definitely has me reconsidering my current energy usage. The scientists' and experts' promises of famine, death, and destruction bring on apocalyptic scenarios in my mind that would scare even the richest oil tycoon. Not to seem nihilistic or depressive, but after reading the article it is hard to not think dark and barren the world posterity will have to live in. If ever there has been a call-to-arms (or a call to disarm and ride a bicycle), it would have to be now. To my mind, however, action must be taken primarily on the parts of average citizens across the United States and the world. Governments, I believe, are notoriously bureaucratic, and the time it would take for any serious, come-to-Jesus meetings to happen on the international stage would be too long, and the "narrow window of opportunity" discussed in the report would already have closed shut. Really shut. I believe the most effective means by which to reverse, or at least decelerate, the effects of heat-trapping gas emissions is to future educate people about what things are really at stake. Unfortunately, with the eyes of so many people constantly glued to their smart phones... Oh, wait, sorry! Instagram notification... I digress, whoops. Anyway, a wake-up call of epic proportions is now necessary to bring the international community's focus to the real issue (singular!) at hand. As cliche as it sounds, there may soon never be a turning-back point after the next few decades. In my opinion, effective change must begin at the individual level. From there, with enough fervor and pushing, regimes worldwide will take real notice and real action; not empty speeches about revolution. It is definitely discouraging, as one lone person, to read articles such as the one linked above, especially as it seems that the time-bomb is ticking faster than anyone can truly account for. On the other hand, it is in those honestly desperate moments that one must remember that every powerful ocean can be broken down into drops in a bucket.

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