November 28, 2012

Feeling the Heat of Climate Change Now More Than Ever

So this summer was a little hot. You get used to feeling like the sun is constantly melting your face off, right? Well, not exactly. It’s hard to think of climate change as having an extreme detrimental effect to our future when we hear about people trying to keep the planet from warming more than a mere 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2020, but the fact of the matter is that we are closing in on the end of a critical period to prevent it from becoming catastrophic. And if we don’t do something to combat it’s progress soon, in a matter of decades climate change is going to come back and smack us in our already fried up faces for not having done more when we had the chance.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change didn’t waste any time on Monday when the convention opened. They began with a discussion of greenhouse gas emissions and how most countries aren’t pulling their weight in terms of working to minimize them. The world’s band of dirty little mistresses, or fossil fuels as some like to call them, are just so hard to say no to! However, according to their report unless this issue is addressed soon we will be putting the planet on a fast-track to devastating climate change. Click HERE to see some of the discussions live and to find links to some of the past discussions on Youtube! Also, the Kyoto Protocol – which usually forces countries to put in at least a little effort to combat rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions – expires this year. So it’s no wonder that climate change proponents are begging everyone at the convention to understand the urgency and criticalness of this situation.

Just a few weeks before the convention opened The European Environment Agency released a report stating that the effects of climate change are already becoming evident in Europe and are only likely to get worse if action is not taken to diminish them. In conjunction with the UN Environment Program, they have found that the “emissions gap”- the difference between current levels of carbon emissions and the levels of carbon emissions needed to avert climate change- is becoming greater rather than lessening. The European Environment Agency also reported that climate change has already impacted environmental systems and society, and further impacts are predicted for the future. We’re effectively delivering our climate a one-two punch. Between carbon and greenhouse gas emissions we’re setting our climate up for a knock-out blow. Unfortunately for us though, that knock out will take us down with it.

The Midwestern United States can attest to the fact that they’re already feeling the burn of climate change, too. In Iowa, 138 scientists and researchers from 27 Iowa colleges and universities signed a report called the Iowa Climate Statement linking global warming to past and recent extreme weather patterns that have caused severe damage not only in Iowa, but in surrounding states as well. Iowa alone experienced $10 billion in damages from major flooding that occurred in 2008, and it is common knowledge that this summer’s drought didn’t exactly extend a helping hand to help counter the previous damage.

But the UN can’t effect fighting climate change on its own, and others are on board to help spread the word. Just check out this article from the Huffington Post that features a video of Naomi Klein (her video segment on Democracy Now! is below), award winning author of “The Shock Doctrine”, discussing how Hurricane Sandy has the potential to be an impetus to keep fighting against climate change. And she’s not alone. A coalition of the world’s largest investors is currently pushing the government to act too! (Yep, you read that right- “A coalition of the world’s largest investors”. Who’d a thunk it?) They say that the government may face losing trillions of dollars in investments and disruptions to the economy if we can’t make more of an effort to combat climate change. Hopefully, countries, including the U.S., will leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with some fresh ideas and the motivation to put them into action. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s going to take a global effort to combat climate change and we need to get that effort into gear as soon as possible.

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