Source: Wikimedia Commons
While it is beneficial to understand the challenges of the climate crisis, it is vital to understand the Key Facts of this urgent situation so we can implement the adaptions that are needed.
In the midst of the climate crisis, we have become vulnerable to nature’s wrath. As natural disasters increase, so will the destruction that comes with it.
The Earth is now much more vulnerable than it ever has been.
A few Key Facts
According to the United Nations Climate Action Fast Facts, the Earth is now about 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than in the 1800s. This means we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement target to keep the global temperature from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and just to be clear, 1.5 degrees Celsius is considered the upper limit to avoid the worst fallout from a volatile climate.
Additionally, the climate action key findings indicate that since the mid-1980s, Arctic surface air temperatures have warmed at least twice as fast as the global average, whilst sea ice, the Greenland ice sheet, and glaciers have declined over the same period, and permafrost temperatures have increased.
So, emissions must drop 7.6% per year from 2020 to 2030 to keep temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2.7% per year to stay below 2 degrees Celsius.
If this doesn’t occur and warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius or more, according Alan Buis at NASA and based on the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming, we are likely to face an increase in deforestation and wildfires, sea level rises greater than 0.66 feet (0.2 meters) meaning increased coastal flooding, beach erosion and salinization of water supplies as well as many other impacts on humans, biodiversity and ecosystems which include loss of species and extinction.
This tells us that time is running out!
Global governance, along with policy and infrastructure implementation, needs to match the urgency of the current unstable and erratic climate.
Adapting to the climate crisis
Adapting, by not only policy implementation but by infrastructure implementation, safeguards people from higher temperatures, rising seas, fiercer storms, unpredictable rainfall, and acidic oceans.
Investing in infrastructure and emergency management systems
According to the United Nations Climate Action Fast Facts and key findings, small island developing States are particularly vulnerable without adaptation to storms and sea-level rise. For some of these countries, disaster-related economic losses have already been as high as 200% of the size of a national economy.
So, investment in early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, global mangrove protection, and resilient water resources could generate $7.1 trillion in avoided costs as well as social and environmental benefits.
Better weather data and early warning and emergency management systems can reduce physical damage and economic losses. Moreover, universal access to early warning systems can deliver benefits up to 10 times the initial cost, according to the Climate Action fast facts and key findings.
Maintaining healthy ecosystems
Healthy ecosystems can provide 37% of the mitigation needed to limit global temperature rise, but damaged ecosystems release carbon instead of storing it, according to the key findings.
In order to reverse this carbon emissions trend, and reduce the amount of plastic in the oceans, we would need to reduce waste, recycle, and reuse it. We would also need to conserve water by using what is necessary and not more. Furthermore, we would need to make smarter food choices by taking only what is needed, and most importantly, we would need to save the trees we already have while also planting more.
And it is vital that we save and plant trees because trees and woodland ecosystems provide clean air and increase biodiversity, which means healthier ecosystems. They also offer protection from flooding and store carbon, which is vital in preventing a catastrophic climate breakdown, according to the Woodland Trust, the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom, concerned with the creation, protection, and restoration of native woodland heritage.
The time to act is now!
Now, it’s all well and good to have policy research, papers, and reports in place. But, if our global governments are not willing to implement these policies or infrastructure, it raises these questions:
why are our governments so hesitant to protect their citizens? And why are our governments not adapting to the increasingly volatile climate and preventing major catastrophes which lead to displacement, and climate refugees?
Additionally, if we are not willing to make incremental adjustments in our own lives for our own benefit, or if no one is ready to accept the facts, face the challenges, or adapt to the current climate crisis then we will have to continue to deal with the aftermath of nature’s wrath until there is nothing left but destruction.