Most people now realise that we really need to look after the planet where we live. After all it is the only place we have to live (at least for the foreseeable future). We tread a delicate path between wisely using the resources available to us and exploiting the earth and damaging the environment beyond repair.
The great wealth of coal and oil stored beneath our feet long, long ago has been used to fuel the industrial revolution and contributed enormously to human economic development. The sun’s power over millions of years has, through plant growth and decay, stored vast deposits of carbon compounds which we now burn to satisfy our needs for power and mobility.
The problem is that we have reintroduced vast quantities of carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide, methane etc.) into the atmosphere with potentially disastrous effects upon our climate and sea levels.
We can hardly blame previous generations who had no idea of what they were unleashing upon the earth, but is now time, some say past the time, for mankind to take drastic action to halt the slide into chaos.
A small increase in global average temperature will cause a rise in sea levels.
- Many of the worlds large cities and capitals are next to the sea and are vulnerable to flooding. For instance London, Washington, Lagos, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, Cape town and many, many more.
- A great deal of the worlds agricultural land is low-lying and it’s loss would cause hunger and starvation for millions.
- Some island countries in the Pacific and Indian Oceans could be totally wiped out.
A small increase in global average temperature will cause catastrophic changes to the climate patterns of the world resulting in droughts in some areas and an increase in extreme weather such as hurricanes.
The end result will be loss of life, increased poverty and disease, and possibly conflict and even war over limited resources.
What stops us taking action
- Vested interests from the oil and coal industry.
- The short-term nature of politics.
- Bad theology causing many to consider the world as bad and due for destruction anyway.
- The high cost of finding alternatives to fossil fuels.
Optimism or Pessimist?
Should we be pessimistic about the future or is there a place for optimism? I have heard so many doom-laden prophecies over the years which have failed to materialise. World war III, planet-wide plagues, a new ice-age, population explosion causing global starvation, extinction of all life by asteroid strikes, alien invasion, nuclear winters, all of which were predicted in my life-time.
Action on global warming does need to be made, now, before it is too late, but I am reasonably optimistic that the human race will survive this threat to our existence. Millions will suffer but eventually we will take action, though probably not before things get much worse.
So, I am not writing as prophet of doom but we need to take action as individuals, as communities, as countries and internationally.