“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
Is climate change real? Or, as Donald Trump, the forty-fifth president of the United States of America noted, is climate change a “hoax invented by China?” (Justin Worland, Time Magazine, 2019)
This question is one of the most frequently asked questions of Google and all other search engines. It is also currently one of the most hotly debated topics between different groups of people like scientists, experts, and leaders of some of the largest countries in the world.
As an aside, Worland notes in the same article mentioned above, that Trump has changed his mind. Climate change is no longer a hoax and his administration “will fight for a cleaner environment every day of [his] presidency.”
However, there is overwhelming evidence of the effects of climate change caused by global warming in the increased number of global severe weather events that occur regularly. These severe weather events include the increase in the number and severity of tropical storms, typhoons, and hurricanes. And they have caused the reduction of sea ice in the Arctic as a result of the one to two percent increase in the global oceans’ surface temperature.
Consequently, this question can be answered in the affirmative, and it is answered succinctly by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with the following statement:
“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”
Additionally, this Intergovernmental Panel notes that the “current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is… greater than 95 percent probability… to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.”
Finally, News24.com columnist Melanie Verwoerd correctly notes during the latest round of challenges with electricity supply in South Africa “that the emissions from these coal power plants are contributing to climate change which causes these extreme weather events [(heavy rain and flash floods)]which cause the wet coal, which results in the coal power stations to grind to a halt.”
Thus, the question that begs is how do we halt the disastrous effects of climate change and save our planet?
Saving Mother Earth: The three imperatives
Suffice to say that there is no quick and easy answer to this question, let alone a workable solution to the current catastrophe. Thus, let’s look at the following three imperatives as an attempt to provide a viable solution to this problem.
The environment a primary concern, not a secondary interest
As Marco Lambertini notes in his article titled “Our planet is on the Brink. Here’s how we save it”, world leaders need to work together to save the planet through “strengthened cooperation.” There is no place for individualism and placing an individual country’s aims and goals above the collective whole.
The only solution has to be a collective one with everyone working together to save one planet. Simply stated, although there are many countries, each with its government and aims, there is only one planet. Therefore, the only successful response has to be a collective response with the same goal of saving the world.
Technology: a key driver of change
By now, most people would have heard of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. And, we are currently in the middle of this period in humankind’s history. It is defined as a blurring of the lines between the physical, biological, and digital spheres.
Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, 3D-printing, genetic engineering, the Internet of Things, and robotics are some of the cutting-edge technologies driving change in the way we live. These changes can be both positive and negative to the environment. And, it is up to us to ensure that these technologies are used for the benefit of the environment and not to its detriment.
Sustainability: A key imperative
There are two elements to reversing the effects of climate change on the environment. The first is the collective will to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the second is the sustainability of this decision over the time that it takes to reverse the damage done.
Unfortunately, based on recent history, the collective will reduce our carbon footprint on the earth seems to be there. However, very few of the world’s governments seem to want to commit to fighting the effects of climate change in the long term.