Time to panic

It’s hot these days, and I am not talking about someone being a legit snack. I am talking about the literal heatwave in this part of the world that has become increasingly unbearable these days. A friend and I had been complaining, and it was not long until our conversation took a dark turn into discussing global warming, climate change, and inequality that we said, “in 12 years when the world gets too hot to live in, we’d better be filthy rich or just might as well be dead.”

This is the world we find ourselves in today, according to David Wallace-Wells in his opinion piece calling for immediate action on climate change, Time to Panic:

The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.

We are living today in a world that has warmed by just one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, when records began on a global scale. We are adding planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than at any point in human history since the beginning of industrialization.

In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its “Doomsday” report — “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” as one United Nations official described it — detailing climate effects at 1.5 and two degrees Celsius of warming (2.7 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). At the opening of a major United Nations conference two months later, David Attenborough, the mellifluous voice of the BBC’s “Planet Earth” and now an environmental conscience for the English-speaking world, put it even more bleakly: “If we don’t take action,” he said, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

As with many issues, the poor will find themselves in situations much worse than the rest of us. By 2050 as a result of climate change, it is predicted that the number of people at the risk of hunger could increase 10-20 percent, as drought and floods will hinder the agricultural activities in many regions. This, of course, would drive them further into poverty and malnourishment 😦

It might seem quite powerless to feel to do anything about climate change right now, especially as most of us are not trained activists, or nowhere in close proximity of the United Nations or the boardrooms in Paris where the climate agreement was negotiated. While articles online had been revolving around consumer culture and recommending conscious consumptions — eat less meat and dairy, insulate homes, travel less using cars etc. — to combat climate change on a personal level, the actions that should be taken should be more than that:

That is what is meant when politics is called a “moral multiplier.” It is also an exit from the personal, emotional burden of climate change and from what can feel like hypocrisy about living in the world as it is and simultaneously worrying about its future. We don’t ask people who pay taxes to support a social safety net to also demonstrate that commitment through philanthropic action, and similarly we shouldn’t ask anyone — and certainly not everyone — to manage his or her own carbon footprint before we even really try to enact laws and policies that would reduce all of our emissions.

Individual choices are important, but if we need to overcome challenges on this grand a scale, we need to resort to collective action by taking back our political space and demand our politicians and businesses to make the necessary changes.

Related: How raising the minimum wage makes a huge difference in people’s lives.

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