Spending 3 months (this year nearly 4 months), living in the USA I get a lot of news and commentary from that country while there. Climate change is of course a hot topic (opun intended) there as it is in Canada.
We can avoid catastrophic climate change if we have the will to do it. Yet many people don’t think this affects them. Many people think this is someone else’s problem. Many think the economy is more important. Many of us don’t realize that most of the solutions to this big problem are “already in our hands.”
Added to that, these unfortunate changes are already affecting us in our homes, food, drinking water, in nature, and even in the economy which we think is so important. We are already paying a hefty price because we have delayed action for so long. In part that is because some corporations have been spending a lot of money to confuse us and persuade us that the problem is not that bad. We have allowed corporations to do that to us.
For decades, scientists like Katherine Hayhoe, one of the leading scientists on Climate change in the US, have been warning us but we have been ignoring their sage advice and instead listening to business leaders who have been exaggerating the cost of change and minimizing the costs of doing nothing. That advice from our business leaders has come at an enormous cost. And we are paying it already. And we will have to pay even more.
We already have solutions at hand here today as the impacts of climate change have started to affect us. As Hayhoe, asked, “what are we waiting for?”
The UN has been warning that we are headed for temperature rises much more than 1.5ºC and to some people that doesn’t sound like it would be so bad. Hayhoe asks us to think of it like the human body. The temperature of the climate has been as stable as the temperature of the human body throughout the life of civilization. As Hayhoe concluded,
“If our body is running a fever of one or two degrees Celsius or three or four or five or six degrees Celsius, that is life-threatening. So we have already, thanks to the Paris Agreement, changed — reduced the amount of change that we expect in the policies that have already been adapted by at least a degree. But we still need more, because every bit of warming carries a cost with it.”
It used to be that we could not see the changes in front of us so perhaps that is why we did not act. Now we can see the changes. As Hayhoe said,
“Over the last year, at least one in three Americans were personally affected by the way that climate change is making our extreme weather more severe. We might live somewhere where sea level is rising, where hurricanes are getting stronger, where wildfires burn in greater area, where the summers are now dominated by record-breaking heat waves. Climate change is no longer a future issue. It is right here where we live. It is right now. And the time to fix it is also here now.”
Hayhoe always makes it plain, but we just don’t listen. And our failure to listen and act, in my view, is a symptom of decline. It is hard to deny the decline of the west.