Help-less-next (Helplessness): Global Climate Change Action or Inaction?
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Climate change and our evident inability to deal with it as a global collective.
RAYMOND B. KANIU
More institutions/sovereign states across the world are declaring climate emergencies as the planet continues to grapple with the reality of climate change. President Joe Biden is considering announcing a climate emergency in the United States based on the political handicap in congress to address the climate action needed to meet the changes. However, a declaration of an emergency does not constitute a viable response to the crisis, rather an awareness of it to inspire action. Let us not make the mistake of conflating the two. It is easier said than done.
Since 2016, when the first climate emergency was declared, 2,247 jurisdictions in 39 countries have declared a climate emergency. Populations covered by jurisdictions that have declared a climate emergency amount to over 1 billion citizens, as of this month. (Climate Emergency Declaration)
What does it mean to declare a climate emergency? By declaring a climate emergency, one implies political recognition that climate change poses a serious risk of catastrophe for society, which must be addressed immediately through the coordinated efforts of the public body declaring the emergency and its citizenry in order to protect both people and goods (UNEP).
Earth’s temperature has risen by 0.14° Fahrenheit (0.08° Celsius) per decade since 1880, but the rate of warming since 1981 is 0.32° F (0.18° C) per decade. That's twice the amount. Last year was the sixth-warmest year on record based on NOAA’s temperature data, and the nine years from 2013 through 2021 rank among the 10 warmest years on record, according to a recent report on the subject.
A scorching heat wave has descended on European countries in the past week - Italy, France and Spain. It has now reached Britain, with the highest UK temperature recorded at 40.2° C today. Europe is also facing an energy crisis as a result of the Ukraine-Russia conflict that has also affected global food supply, another crisis shared by the imposing and desolate horn of Africa. There was also the recent redefinition for what's considered as green energy in the EU. Nothing is going to change anytime soon, and yet we must address all these changes simultaneously. The uncertainty factor globally has exponentially risen.
Another noticeable catastrophe is that of wildland fires fueled by climate change caused by human activities. What is referred to as the Anthropocene, a great epoch era we are living in where humans are responsible for the climate and environmental changes around us. For example, we are responsible for about 55-99% of these fires depending on the location. Our infrastructures will be tested at a higher frequency than our reaction to resolve those very changes. Just take a look at the current count of global fires indicated by this map. The interactive version of it can be found here.
The second map shows Earth's surface temperature each year from 1900–2020 compared to the 1981-2020 average, based on temperature histories put together by three different research groups: NOAA, University of East Anglia, and NASA.
What are we doing to our future? Have we become desensitized and inundated with fruitless climate change meetings? Have the wells of our creative and innovative juices dried up that we cannot find solutions to these problems? This will make the COP27 in Egypt, later this year, crucial. We will either move with purpose as a result of a renewed awareness or inadvertently declare a stark future for the next generation for lack of sustainable action amidst other crises.
I've barely scratched the surface nor explored other issues ailing us like inflation and other creeping crises, but I am sure I am not alone in experiencing the helplessness across the globe to react to a growing number of crises at the expense of a future generation who will pay for our actions, or lack thereof.