You and I probably can’t see it happening. The sun keeps rising and setting in the sky, snow falls in the winter, and there is rain in the summer. We keep going to work, studying, and contributing to society as best we can. But the cracks have well and truly formed in our balanced world, whether we were expecting it or not. Polar bears are going hungry, seal babies are being swept out to sea for lack of stable ice footing, natural disasters, and starving people are on the rise. What’s happening to our planet? The inevitable results of an uncontrolled Industrial Revolution, that’s what. Greenhouse gases have billowed from our economy-building smokestacks for long enough to seriously affect the climate and, it turns out, there’s no going back.
That’s right friends — no going back. All the protests, letters, campaigning and summits of these past years is, essentially, in vain, as it’s no longer in our hands to save the multitude of feathered, scaled, winged and furred creatures of our land.
According to the scientists who met last year in Britain for an environmental conference, the threshold “beyond which climate change is likely to be unstoppable” has been passed already by accumulated greenhouse gases. The conference, officially the Conference on Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, was held in the UK Met Office last year and it produced a strict threshold not to be surpassed in the agglomeration of greenhouse gases. Government officials from all over the world supposedly took this information seriously, yet here we are on the other side of the line. What happens now? Professor Burke of Imperial College London says “we have very little time to act now. Governments must stop talking and start spending. We already have the technology to allow us to meet our growing need for energy while keeping a stable climate. We must deploy it now.” (McCarthy, 2006). While leaders around the world struggle to meet past-due deadlines for green technological implementation, the planet is going to have on average a two degrees Celsius increase over the mean worldwide temperature before the Industrial Revolution.
This is a temperature increase that means definite changes in global climate. According to research done by The Independent, these global temperatures mean 97 per cent of coral reefs will die, Scottish Puffin colonies are in peril, crop yields throughout Africa, Europe and the Americas will diminish, and half of Australia’s Kakadu national park will disappear. Closer to home, polar bears will be wiped out along with various sea mammals and fish. As a result, the Inuit will lose their traditional hunting culture through lack of prey.
There is of course still hope in all this doom and gloom. Steve Connor of The Independent says, “nobody, least of all the climate scientists, would say we know all there is to know about climate change. And however bleak the outlook, there is still every reason we should take action now to minimise carbon dioxide emissions.” Let’s hope the people in power feel the same way, and actually DO something about it.
Connor, S. (2006, February 11). Why flutter of butterfly’s wings explains global warming. The Independent.
McCarthy, M. (2006, February 11). Global warming: Passing the “?tipping point.’ The Independent.