FOR ALL that’s been happening today — and for that matter since way, way back — it’s sad that not much progress has been achieved for Mother Earth to cool down a bit from an over-heating global atmosphere. The challenges that climate change have remained significantly daunting, as evidenced by the relentless occurrences of extreme weather events, to the chagrin of the world’s scientific community.
As we speak, world leaders, government officials and environmental advocates are gathering in Bonn, Germany for the 23rd annual Conference on Climate Change, precisely to map out greater doable strategies whose policy guidelines were benchmarked in the Paris agreement. This conference holds topnotch importance, given the successively harsh weather disturbances this year alone. Super hurricanes, mightier temblors, deadlier heat waves and drought erupting in many populous places around the world — indeed, heavy hitting events without peer anytime at all.
The UN Climate Change Executive Director Patricia Espinosa couldn’t have said it in a well-defining world view: “The thermometer of risk is rising, the window of opportunity is closing.” Clearly, not much progress has been attained to arrest greenhouse gas emissions to safe, livable levels. An over-heating atmosphere in the past two years alone, with 2016 recorded as the hottest ever in modern history, continues to trigger weather extremes at their most lethal misbehaving ways. This means that the burning of fossil fuels has principally been unabating, despite supposedly stern pledges by both the industrialized and developing nations to do just that, singly and collectively in a global effort done together.
Fine, let’s go over a simple reality check. First and foremost, the Paris agreement sealed in conscience by 198 countries the world over, including the United States and China, strives to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that the world’s polluters have recklessly been ejecting into the atmosphere since way, way back. Strewn together by world leaders after nearly a decade of bickering and squabbling over the cuts every country would do, the Paris deal simply strives to bring down the toxic pollution inflicted recklessly into the world’s atmosphere.
The United States along with China have for decades now been at the apex of global pollution, their combined gas output accounting for much of what everybody else has been insufferably experiencing from. The goal is simple: how to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius. The strategy is doable: all countries, both industrialized and the developing, must embed in their economic activities, as if written on stone, how much reduction they will aim for within their respective means.
There is a compelling reason for this. Scientists the world over have been warning us of the peril that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions bring about. Man has been relentlessly ejecting, since the year 1750, a 40% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, principally from the combustion of fossil fuels principally coal, oil, natural gas along with deforestation, soil erosion, and animal agriculture. These have been going on in greedy abandon in recent centuries alone.
What we have been enduring these recent years, simply termed as global warming, is causing indescribable havoc to our ecosystem biodiversity, putting at grave risk not just the economic livelihood of people worldwide, but the very survival of humankind. At the time the Paris deal was forged, scientists agreed that pollution could still be brought down to safety levels, if concertedly done by everyone, by his voluntary will or out of a mandated compulsory behavior.
Indeed, we have been experiencing the effects of global warming that comes from unchecked greenhouse gas emissions largely from coal-fueled economic activities. Sea levels are rising, threatening to erode islands and coastal areas, including the Philippines which now ranks among the most vulnerable in the world. Subtropical deserts are expanding. Arctic glaciers are beginning to melt down and ultimately disappear. Extreme weather events have become the new normal — heat wave, droughts, heavy rainfall with floods, heavy snowfall, killer-quakes whose strength and intensity have been suddenly on the rise.
This is why the Paris deal came into an iron-clad being, adopted in 2015, enjoining the world to cap the rise in temperature at “well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Sadly, it’s a goal that recent reality checks now show to be seemingly unachievable, considering how a heavy-hitting polluter has even backed off from this epic agreement. There is no question, proven by recent weather extremes, that climate change spells danger and is getting worse, while global gas emission-arresting efforts are nowhere near that doable goal.
Trumping climate change now is a huge step backward. It sends off the wrong message for the wrong reason: better to live now and die together later. We have experienced in recent months that if we don’t take care of nature, it won’t take care of us, all of us. If we don’t work to manage our future well, if we don’t drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels through an energy mix of clean, unpolluting sources, if we don’t take the business of environmental cleanup seriously, if we don’t abandon our wicked ways to live on a coal-reliant life, then we’re just well on the way to perdition.
At day’s end, it’s all about doing the right thing because there’s no other choice, but seeing the end of days.