Existential Threat No. 1

Climate change will not go away if we ignore it

By Mars Baker

Humanity is on the verge of extinction. 

All right, perhaps the situation isn’t as dire as an incoming meteorite or a new world war (which are both plausible), but it’s even worse: a slow, excruciating, and fiery demise.

Climate change is not a debatable topic. An analysis published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Australia reports, “Planetary and human systems [are] reaching a 'point of no return' by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”

Despite the immediate threat, climate change continues to be ignored or, at least, “put off” until the oceans begin to boil. In other words, an existential threat has been bestowed upon us as a problem to solve by the older generation who need not have qualms about the future.

It is not their future on the line. It’s ours.

You can buy yourself a shiny new hybrid or stay atop your recycling game, but this is not going to stop the ice caps from melting or prevent the increasingly severe natural disasters. As much as it hurts to admit, this is as much a political issue as it is an environmental one. The large-scale, revolutionary reforms necessary to address climate change can only be implemented by those who have the power to do so.

At first glance, this may seem like a pessimistic notion, yet it simply means that we need to focus our efforts on political change rather than attempting to fix it ourselves. Although several factors are causing our stagnation in climate rehabilitation, the primary concern amongst our politicians and leaders is that it’s too expensive.

In the short-run, yes. In the long-run, the opposite is true; climate change is costing us. We have already spent hundreds of billions of dollars cleaning up weather-related disasters brought upon by climate change. A journal published in Nature, one of the most recognizable scientific journals in the world, states that if we limited warming to 1.5 °C, there would be more than a 60% chance that the accumulated global benefits would exceed $20 trillion.

In spite of the evidence, we still have the misfortune of leaders failing to see past their pocketbooks and into the not-too-distant future. We could take the leader of the free world, for example, who has never acknowledged the existence of climate change, even going so far as to post a Tweet in 2012 claiming, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

The question then arises: what are we supposed to do to swap out ineffective leaders? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Vote.

I admittedly could be beating a dead horse; the pressure to vote is becoming increasingly forced upon the younger generation. Political cynicism has infected young people to the point that in 2014, less than 20 percent of young people voted—the lowest rate ever—compared with roughly 40 percent of the general population, according to United States census data.

A prevalent mindset among people is that their vote doesn’t matter, whether it be because they individually are only one voice or because they believe the government is too corrupt for change.

Have you ever heard the proverb, “There is strength in numbers”? It’s a popular statement because it’s true, and the situation we find ourselves in is not an exception.

Perhaps you aren’t able to vote or want to steer away from the political path altogether. What are you supposed to do?

Let your voice be heard. 

We as humans are easily caught up in the snares of daily life, which means that climate change is hardly at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. Some may even know nothing beyond what they’ve seen in the media

Artists, writers, filmmakers, economists, sociologists—we all have a platform at some level, and the issue that threatens the entirety of the human race applies to each and every one of them. This is not to imply that one must be particularly artistic or talented or unbelievably intelligent to make a change, however. Regardless of age or gender, every individual possesses the power to effect change; they need only to find the drive to act.

For those of us who are aware, we must spread the truth. 

Your voice is important. Use it.

Wake Mag