WHAT’S IN STORE THIS YEAR? Indeed, not much progress has been achieved for Mother Earth to cool down a bit from an over-heating global atmosphere. The afflictions we’ve been having the past year — and for that matter in recent years — now appear to grow in greater ferocity and harshness.
Snow in the Saharas? That’s what’s taking place now in the world’s hottest desert, indicating that what had been unthinkable just decades ago are now happening. Clearly, the challenges that climate change has posited just a few years ago, prior to the Paris global accord, have largely remained daunting. Clearly, toxic gas emissions have continued to pollute the earth’s atmosphere, bringing about extreme weather events unlike any other.
It simply means that scant progress has been achieved two years since the world leaders, including business tycoons, have pledged to do something more specific to arrest the relentless bombardment which economic activities have caused. In a One Planet Summit held last month, countries the world over gathered anew to put more money on the table, both for investment pledges in green energy and divestment from fossil fuels. The French President Emmanuel Macron, who hosted the global gathering, said it in more succinct terms: “We’re not going fast enough, we all have to move forward, the time is now, lest countries represented here begin to disappear in a matter of years.”
If only to manifest how serious is the French resolve, Big Business in France immediately announced plans to put in 12 billion euros in green investments by 2020, and to divest 2.4 billion euros from coal-company activities. Not to be outdone, the World Bank Group disclosed several projects in the pipeline, street lighting in India and coastal erosion, flooding and climate change adaptation in West Africa. Also off the drawing board is geothermal development ion Indonesia and funding of projects under the cities Resilience Program of the Global Covenant of Mayors. The latter project promises to leverage $4.5 billion in World Bank loans to stimulate billions in public and private capital that seeks to address vulnerabilities made worse by continued climate change.
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.
The One Planet Summit strives to put more money on the table, not just spewed recklessly and forgotten just as soon as the pledges are made. Why it has had to meet just two years since the Paris accord is a telling statement that not much has been done to make the pledges leap beyond mouthed invectives. Scant progress, if you will, but hardly enough to make a serious dent.
It should be reminded that 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: 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, and a surprising weather extreme, snow in the Saharas.
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 shared perdition.
At day’s end, it’s all about doing the right thing because there’s no other choice.