The Harsh Truth About Global Warming — And What We Can Do About It
There’s a lot of talk about climate change these days. And I think that even now, with all that’s happening (Australian fires, Siberian fires, melting ice caps and Greta Tunberg on all the news) — people are not quite sure what’s going on.
We still don’t understand why it matters and why we should act.
And, most importantly, how we should act.
My job as a writer and blogger, I believe — is to spread the word. Hence, this post.
Donald Trump thinks global warming is a scam.
(Probably, created by Chinese)
Last year, I read the book The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. The first sentence of that book:
It’s worse. Much worse than you think.
And indeed, it is.
Here’s the truth:
The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions in the past, with 75–86% of all species on the planet dead.
They taught us in school that asteroids caused these extinctions — all but one that killed the dinosaurs involved climate change produced by greenhouse gas.
There’s nothing new in this world. It’s just new to us.
These extinctions exist and function as an evolutionary reset. And there’s no reason why this one — the extinction we’re experiencing now — shouldn’t be fatal to our (dominant) species.
It’s happening fast, and yes, it’s happening BECAUSE of humans.
David Wallace-Wells writes:
The most notorious [extincton] was 250 million years ago; it began when carbon dioxide warmed the planet by five degrees Celsius, accelerated when that warming triggered the release of methane, another greenhouse gas, and ended with all but a sliver of life on Earth dead.
We are currently adding carbon to the atmosphere at a considerably faster rate; by most estimates, at least ten times faster.
There’s a 1/3 more carbon in the atmosphere than at any point in the last 0.8–15 million years. The oceans used to be 100 ft higher before humans.
The humans are incredibly stupid at exponential thinking. If you google ‘the speed of climate change,’ you’ll get information about the Earth getting 0.85 degrees Celcius warmer over the past 150 years (FYI, 3 degrees is enough to make us go extinct).
And then they calculate, that the average temperature growth is 0.05 degrees per decade (i.e., by dividing 0.85 by 150 and multiplying by 10).
Good for them.
The truth is, several feedback loops accelerate the speed of climate change.
#1. The Arctic is melting, and its permafrost is releasing methane (another greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere, which is accelerating the speed of the planet-warming even further.
#2. Australia is burning, Siberia is burning, California and Amazon are burning. And they will, unfortunately, keep burning.
The statistics show that the recent Australian fire killed more than 1 billion (I didn’t believe that number at first) animals and 27 people. But the scariest thing is how much carbon the burning wood emitted in the atmosphere this January. And how much less natural ‘lungs’ (i.e., trees) we have that help absorb that carbon.
#3. Ice is white and very reflective. It serves as the Earth’s natural sunscreen and reflects some of the solar energy to space. This keeps the planet from heating up too quickly. As it melts and reflects less of the solar energy, the earth keeps on heating — at an accelerated speed.
Scientists have a name for this effect; it’s called the “Ice-Albedo feedback loop”: the planet becomes warmer -> more ice is melting -> less sun reflected -> more temperature growth.
There are several frequently asked questions that people don’t seem to understand about climate change. I’ve had them before as well, and after getting sick of my ignorance, I did some research to answer them.
Now, I want to answer them for you.
Ok, should I stop eating meat and using plastic?
That would help. But it wouldn’t change anything. Even if you, your whole town and country decided to stop eating meat and use plastic, it wouldn’t stop climate change (although it would benefit the environment).
The change must come from a higher source. It should be collective. It should be universal. Everybody — I mean, the whole planet — should collaborate on this problem.
Why can’t we solve the problem? What’s stopping us?
We have the resources. The politicians won’t pull the plug.
The only people who’re in charge of stopping climate change are the politicians and the government decision-makers. They have their motives. Making a change at this scale is hard.
And it won’t happen until it’s almost too late. Let’s pray that it won’t be.
Our job — and yours too — is to spread the word enough for them to do it quickly.
Is it not a scam…?
When I was eight years old, I was walking to school in early December in Moscow, Russia, and it was -30 degrees Celcius. It was so cold, it hurt.
This year? It didn’t even snow on New Year’s Eve.
So yes, Donald. It’s not a scam. (You’re fired!)
WHAT IT MEANS FOR US
In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, the galactic empire was faced by a series of crises. Each crisis was a test and also a call-to-action. The crisis limited the number of options to just a few so that the people knew for sure what action they should take.
Right now, we’re going through such a crisis. And we have minimal options. One.
Global warming is not a fad. It’s not a scam. And it’s not mass hysteria. It’s a crisis — the one, that tests us as a species.
In Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari talks about how humans became the dominant species on this planet. In short, it happened because we can unite and solve collective problems effectively. We don’t even have to meet each other (i.e., think about Medium — with all its writers contributing to the platform regularly), unlike dolphins — who can communicate, but still need face-to-face interaction.
The Apple company doesn’t exist — it’s only in our heads. People who work for Apple live, its products exist, but Apple itself? It’s all our imagination.
Medium doesn’t exist — it’s just a name Ev Williams came up with (and a beautiful website) so that the people with ideas could unite and tell them to the rest of the world.
Memes, as Richard Dawkins called them, allow the homo sapiens to unite by a collective force of imagination.
The crisis we’re going in now — the global warming crisis — is a test to humanity. It’s a time when we have to take this power to unite and become one — and solve the problem together.
Either we unite and survive — or we stay in our shells and die. Not us, of course, but probably our kids and grandkids.
David Wallace-Wells wrote:
Engineering a solution goes beyond thinking like a planer, because the planet will survive, however terribly we poison it; it is thinking like a people, one people, whose fate is shared by all.
Let’s use the tools we have at hand. Let’s use content creation and the Internet to spread the word. Let’s use our species superpower and become one people.
We can solve this — together.
As always, thanks for reading!