It’s been a defining phrase of the Trump presidency: “energy dominance” a doctrine emphasizing the expansion of coal and oil production, all the while weakening attempts to curb the exponentially growing threat of global warming. Scientists around the world are pleading with the American populace to recognize the reality of our planet’s imminent destruction and trust the validity of their findings. In a recent report by climate scientists, there is now evidence that without aggressive action in the next 12 years, Earth will see the worst climate catastrophes in history. Yet, with a flip of the Trump news cycle switch, their cries can be instantly silenced.
Our planet will witness famine, war, global water shortages and the sinking of coastal cities all by 2040– 22 years from now. Mankind is no longer at the point where climate change action is a choice, a daunting but long-term threat that can be pushed to future generations. Without proper response, there will be drastic changes in the way our planet functions, and in the way we carry out our daily lives. No, this does not mean that in 22 years time the Earth as we know it will cease to exist. But, it does mean that slowing climate change down enough to allow us to adapt as painlessly as possible to this new reality will be significantly more difficult.
Warming temperatures from global warming will increase sea-levels, speed up permafrost thawing, and augment the frequency of floods, hurricanes and typhoons. However, these barely scratch the surface of what terrors are yet to come within our lifetime. Hyper-attention to the swelling seas and the populated cities they will drown has neglected to breathe life into other, more looming threats. Rising oceans are extremely detrimental, don’t get me wrong, but fleeing the coastline will not be enough. In my lifetime, I will witness parts of Earth become nearly uninhabitable and other parts become inhospitable to living species, as a consequence of inaction.
Permafrost, until recently, wasn’t a major concern of climate scientists, because, as the name suggests, it is soil that stays permanently frozen. However, permafrost in the Arctic contains massive amounts of carbon – more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere, just to give you an idea. With rising temperatures, this toxic frost will melt. This means, because we have twice as much carbon in the ice as is currently destroying the atmosphere of this planet, the date of its release keeps getting moved up and the danger of poisonous mercury, carbon, and disease-carrying microbes circulating into the atmosphere becomes all the more real.
So what can we do? How can we ease into this dystopian nightmare? My answer: big thinkers. We need strong and fearless leaders who will stand up to government inaction and encourage voters to pay attention, because the lives of their children will depend on it. We need people to use their voice and talk about climate change. The more we have conversations about climate change, the more socially validated these conversations become, and the more global warming can become a universal, social issue, not a political one. The truth is, almost all countries have the capacity to minimize climate effects with popular support and opportunities to act. The imperative now is to create the right political conditions to both motivate and facilitate action by changing the conversation to combat the climate conspiracy and create meaningful change. We must act in unity and work collectively to boost our resilience to the unavoidable destruction of our planet. To ignore this reality is to gamble with the existential future of not only our own global economy, but the safety and preservation of our plane