Article by Dr Jacob Z. Dalgaard
University of Warwick, Coventry, England, UK.
It is now evident that climate change is real, and that it is happening at an alarming rate (1-3). The Arctic, Antarctic and glaciers all over the world are melting; ocean levels and the average global temperature are rising. It is evident, that climate change is here and is going to affect us all either directly or indirectly, not only because the temperature and the oceans are rising but more so because the climate is going to be more unstable, making it difficult to farm, fish, organize our societies and potentially leading to mass migration (1-3). Therefore there is an urgent need for global climate action.
As humans, we are two-dimensional beings living on a surface of a sphere; the world looks very different if one tries to think 3-dimentionally. Imagine for a moment that the world was flat; then we would have a much greater sense that it was finite. Earth is only 40,000 kilometers in circumference, small enough for some extreme athletes to have run or cycled around it. We live on a small green island in the vast, vast sea of the universe, protected by a thin layer of atmosphere, only 16 kilometers thick, yet we use more funds on military defending our borders than ensuring that we can continue living here on this planet (4,5).
Indeed, we take nature for granted, but it is not. At this point in history, we actively have to protect the climate as well as the natural world. The rainforest, the savanna, Antarctica, and the temperate forests are world heritage; it is our responsibility to protect for future generations, not just because they are beautiful, but because the wellbeing of our children and their children depend on them. We do not, and cannot, exist independently from the natural world; we are part of it as much it is part of us.
Humans have only existed as a species for approximately 190.000 years (6); a blink of an eye when compared to the age of the planet we inhabit (7). We are one species, and every human shares more than 99.5% of his or her DNA with every other human (8). However, our brain has evolved to notice differences, not similarities. In fact, we have much more in common than what make us different. At the moment we are 7.5 billion people in the world, and we can without any problems move mountains. Climate change is a problem that we can solve together.
It possible for us to tackle global warming by exchanging ideas, traditions and technologies from around the world: water conserving agricultural practices in sub-Saharan; ways of affordable, efficient insulation in Siberia; affordable solar panels from China and many others. Importantly, most of the knowledge and technologies needed to prevent global warming are already here or will soon be available; what we need is quick implementation.
Importantly, implementation of green technologies, recycling and use of renewable energy also makes sense also from an economical point of view; it creates jobs, reduces pollution, improves health and limits the dependence on imports. Societies that embrace green technologies thrive on so many levels.
We humans all want a better future for our children and a better world. At this point in history we have that opportunity: we can act now, share knowledge, resources and solve the problem of climate change. However, if we fail to act now, there is no second chance. We will pass the tipping point from where there is no return. Let us do the right thing together for a shared future on this green emerald of a planet.
1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2015) Paris Agreement.
2. United Nations Environment. Annual report (2016) http://web.unep.org/annualreport/2016/index.php?page=0&lang=en
3. National Geographic. (2014) ”New Climate Change Report Warns of Dire Consequences”
4. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (2017) https://www.sipri.org/research/armament-and-disarmament/arms-transfers-and-military-spending/military-expenditure.
5. UN Climate Change Newsroom. https://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4982txt.php
6. “Fossil Reanalysis Pushes Back Origin of Homo sapiens” (2005) Scientific America. 17 February.
7. “How Science Figured Out the Age of Our Planet.” (2013) Scientific America. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-science-figured-out-the-age-of-the-earth/
8. National Human Genome Research Institute (2017) https://www.genome.gov/10001551/genetic-variation-program/genetic-variation-program/