Climate: humankind is running out of time

NASA satellite image showing salts, smoke and dust distribution by wind in the atmosphere. With ellie campbell story 30 November 2017
NASA satellite image showing salts, smoke and dust distribution by wind in the atmosphere. With ellie campbell story 30 November 2017

Humankind is hell-bent on destroying our earth and needs to change its ways for the sake its future.

There’s nothing new in that of course, but the scary thing is, we were first warned about how close we are to disaster 25 years ago when 1700 members of the international Union of Concerned Scientists presented a dire warning to humanity.

Today, things are much worse.

An updated warning from the Union has announced that by the end of the century, humanity may face a miserable fate.

The first warning, back in 1992, told of the catastrophic damage humankind had inflicted on its ecosystem.

The updated version issued this month warned that the harm has since been exacerbated.

This time, more than 15,000 scientists from 185 countries signed the statement, which addresses the lack of action taken by governments to reverse the growing threats facing humankind. With a rapidly growing population draining critical resources, the suggest the damage will soon be irreversible

It took an asteroid to wreak havoc over the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. In this time, who needs asteroids? A few hundred thousand years of Homo sapiens is all it took to bring the planet to the brink of obliteration.

Mass extinction

“[We] have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century,” the letter reads.

Since 1992, carbon emissions have increased by 62 per cent and average temperatures have risen to more than half a degree Celsius. The global population has grown by 35 per cent, draining critical resources and accelerating deforestation needed for greater agricultural production.

In the past 25 years, the scientists noted, access to clean water per head has shrunk by 26 per cent and nearly 300 million acres of forest have been destroyed. Rising sea levels are expected to drown a league of island nations – the Maldives, populated by 427,000, is expected to be fully submerged by the end of the century if the trends aren’t reversed.

“Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out,” the new letter warns. “We must recognise, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”

Scientists are calling for everyone, particularly “media influences” to place pressure on governments to take immediate action to address the crisis.

Australia fourth last

Many international world leaders have failed to tackle the catastrophic issues triggered by climate change. US President Donald Trump pulled out of the UN Paris Climate Change Agreement this year, prioritising the blocking of illegal immigration and a military build-up. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has left climate policy at the bottom of her agenda, favouring economic matters. In Australia, the Coalition has selected growing power prices and the electricity market as priorities.

The failure to address this global disaster is reflected in the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index, ranking Australia fourth last in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions – with the US placing fifth last.

How can you assist? Well, consider not having children (yes, overpopulation is a thing, and it’s costing us bigtime), try opting for the bus over driving, and contact your local MP to push for prioritisation of climate action.

While the future may seem bleak, scientists offer the hope that swift action by all could reverse the severity of the consequences. – Eleanor Campbell  @eleanor_joan1

Top image from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre shows wind distribution of dust, smoke and evaporated salts in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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About Eleanor Campbell 4 Articles
Eleanor Campbell is a young Sydney journalist whose interests include science, society and politics.