Our House On Fire Part 1: The World We Are Inheritingby Helmy Sa'at
Climate change is here to stay and it is not a hoax. It has essentially morphed into a climate emergency!
What Have We Done?!: Reverberating Repercussions
Following more than two hundred years of industrialisation perpetuated by human activities, increased scale and frequency with each successive generation leaving an even bigger human carbon footprint, the Earth suffers.
Understanding climate change, its causes and how it is accelerated by human activities, is simple. However, trying to understand and accept its impacts is not that easy to swallow. Different parts of the globe experience varying degrees of challenges, but at a rate that is alarming!
With global warming, the Earth gets hotter.This is attributed to the correlation between increase in greenhouse gases in the planet’s atmosphere and a rise in temperatures. In 2020, temperatures in Antarctica reached 20 degree celsius for the first time ever! In 2018, South Korea experienced its most severe heatwave since records began in 1973. Global warming leads to radical changing of weather patterns contributing to extreme events, such as frequent and unpredictable floods and hurricanes. For instance, one of Iran’s provinces received 70 percent of its annual rainfall in a single day in 2019. That is a staggering amount! And, as recently as this month, heavy and devastating downpours caused detrimental flooding in seven states in Malaysia.
Extreme temperatures also expose surface areas to warmer and drier conditions that cause droughts and wildfires. For instance, unprecedented blazes swept Australia in 2020. It resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives and an estimated three billion animals were either harmed or killed in the process. In the meantime, melting glaciers causes rise in sea levels that threaten coastal communities vulnerable to any small changes in their immediate natural environments, propelling climate migrations.
Lives of land and sea creatures are affected, too; with habitat loss from the shrinking Arctic sea ice to wildfires destroying forests, these creatures face extinctions. Take the clownfish for example. Its coral reef habitat is threatened by ocean acidification thus disrupting its ability to breed. Or, look at reports on polar bears. With the Arctic warming twice as much compared to the global average, sea ice is continuously melting which threatens polar bears that do most of their hunting on ice. It is no longer a hyperbolic remark to make — polar bears are at risk of drowning.
Burst That Bubble
Climate emergency is already at our doorstep. There is no time to wait. At best, we are at the stage whereby mankind is playing catch up in order to reduce and minimise its devastating impacts.
From Hurricane Maria in 2017, to wildfires in Spain in 2019 and the gradual sinking of Tuvalu’s islands, global displacement is real with millions of people being forced to leave their homes due to climate change.
Do we wait till sunscreen lotion of whatever degree of SPF would no longer work in protecting us from the punishing sunlight, or learning how to swim is no longer a hobby but rather a matter of survival for the next generation facing rising sea levels? Although the world’s billionaires are racing to clinch the top position for ultimate domination of space travel at the moment, we have to realise that we only have one home among the billions of stars — the Earth.
Do you find this article alarming? Well, you should experience a bit of discomfort knowing that the Earth we live in is in peril with each passing second. With awareness, knowledge and hope, it should nudge us into taking actions. You and I are the ‘problem’; but, we are also the ‘solution’.
Share with us in the comments section below about your worries for the Earth we are inheriting; and do not forget to share this article with your family and friends in order to continue this very important conversation upon learning something new. Look out for ‘Our House On Fire Part 2: Combating Climate Emergency’, next Friday.