Last year in 2018, scientists made the most echoed counting-down warning for climate change. They named it “The Last Call.” It is as scary as it sounds.
Such big advice has been made several times throughout the last decades since global temperatures started being recorded in 1850. Our atmosphere composition started to change, along with our climate. Today, studies show that 2018 was the hottest year, where our planet’s average surface temperature rose to about 1.8°F (1°C). It is predicted that if temperatures exceed 2.7°F (1.5°C) in the next decade, humankind will be in serious trouble.
How Did This Start?
Since human species began to send enormous quantities of gas emissions to the atmosphere, greenhouse gas concentrations like carbon dioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4) increased exponentially over the years. This concentration started acting like a big blanket covering the planet. As solar energy gets trapped by these greenhouse gases, it cannot escape to space, making the planet warmer and warmer. All of this started shortly after the Industrial Revolution – between 1820 to 1840.
Why Is It so Urgent to Stop Climate Change?
Having excess heat that cannot escape leads to a domino effect. The ocean has been absorbing about 93% of the heat of climate change. It’s now hotter than at any point since temperature records started being tracked. The upper half of the ocean is getting hotter rapidly. The same is happening in the deep seas, at a slower rate than the surface. Warmer oceans are followed by changes in weather patterns, more powerful tropical storms, and the extinction of millions of marine species, such as corals and fish. Glaciers began to melt. The amount of summer ice in the Arctic Ocean is now smaller and thinner than at any point, since the 1970s. Naturally, this leads to sea levels rising, as more volume of water from melted ice enters into the oceans.
In the past 100 years, the global sea level rose about 7.8 inches (20cm), and it’s happening faster every year. Some countries like India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka will be fighting to survive. The Maldives will be submerged. Millions of people will die as they battle the increasing heat.
We can already witness several consequences from the excess heat, trapped on Earth. Heat waves and droughts are becoming more frequent in Southern and central Europe. The number of deaths from too much heat increased in some areas while the number of deaths from too much cold decreased in others. Plants and animals already started to move to new locations and face extinction. Several areas of North America will face more droughts as global average temperatures continue to rise.
As you can see, this is a global issue. Science is clear. The greenhouse effect has been studied and comprehended for the last 100 years. While humans continue to add more CO2 to the atmosphere, less heat radiation is escaping to space, causing an energy imbalance (more energy is coming in than going out).
Climate change is already affecting people, and the scariest part is that more warming will occur, even without adding any more greenhouse gases. Again, this is as scary as it sounds. The longer we wait, the more difficult it becomes. If we had started to decrease gas emission in 2005, it would have required only 3% emission reduction per year to restore the energy balance of our planet. By 2013, we would have had to decrease emissions by 6% per year. If we start only in 2022, we will need 15% of emission reduction, which may be impossible.
The rising of CO2 concentrations occur mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels in exchange for energy. Fossil fuels are natural resources like gas or coal. They formed over the span of several millions of years from remainings of living organisms, such as plants. These fossil fuels contain CO2 that plants once pulled out of the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. As we burn them, we return that CO2 to our atmosphere. We created an atmosphere with a CO2 concentration of 410 parts per million (ppm) when the recommended level is 350 ppm. It seems like the world is facing the biggest threat, yet we have barely started changing our actions to prevent a climate change catastrophe.
What Can We Do?
Choose your political leaders carefully. Demand a change to clean energy. It sure helps if everyone travels less by plane or car, turns off the lights and consumes less meat and dairy. We may also grow our own food, plant as many trees as we can, and turn off the TV. The truth is though; nothing will significantly change if people don’t vote for candidates that will fight to protect our planet and our survival. Your voice is crucial to demand political commitment to urgently change laws that no longer serve us. It is our right as citizens of this society to fight for what is beneficial for us.
Right now, our governments are forcing us to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year, globally. By doing this, they encourage the exploration of more fossil fuels through longwall mining, tar sands, tar shale, deep ocean arctic drilling, and mountaintop removal. While this can be good for the economy, it’s putting our future at risk.
The solution is not raising fees on carbon emissions. We must change to clean energy that equally meets our energy needs. The energy choices we make at this precise moment will determine the consequences to our climate, our health, and our economy for decades to come. We have now renewable energy like solar power, wind, rain, waves, and tides, generating electricity with fewer or no greenhouse gas emissions or pollution. With clean energy, we can protect the planet and ourselves from something hazardous that soon can be out of humanity’s control.
When you find yourself at the train station and hear the last call to take that train, you move fast as you don’t want to lose it. This is “The Last Call.”
Don’t miss this train.