According to the UN, “climate change is the definitive topic of our time and we’re at a decisive moment. From the changes in climate patterns that threaten the production of food, to the rising sea level that increments the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change have a global reach and unprecedented size.”
Not only does the UN say this, rather, this sense of urgency is shared by thousands of civil organizations, academic and research institutes, governments, and activists.
Science backs it up. The Australian Academy of Sciences assures that “human activities have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”. Notably, quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are continuously exchanged between the atmosphere, the earth, and the oceans. This growing concentration of CO2 is mainly attributed to the burning of fossil fuels, which has been on the rise during the last two centuries in energy use and economic activity.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued an essential report that asserts that to limit global warming to 1.5 °C (in comparison to the estimated 2 °C that the temperature can rise), quick and long-reaching changes are needed in concern to matters of energy, manufacturing, construction, mobility, and governance. This 1.5 °C limit would have clear and tangible benefits to people and natural ecosystems.
Similarly, we cannot ignore data divulged by the European Environment Agency about human activities that contribute to climate change, such as the increase of aerosols in the atmosphere and changes to land cover by replacing the densest and lushest forests with arable and sparser land.
Meaning, there should be no doubt about the enormous role human beings have had (and continue to have) in climate change and, by extension, in global warming.
The activities of modern civilization, which leans on fossil fuels as its principal energy source (carbon and fuel being the most common), release too many greenhouse gases for there to be a balanced planet.
The impacts to natural ecosystems, communities, and specific regions have been a long time coming: changes to precipitation, the melting of ice caps and snow (especially in Greenland and Antarctica), the rise in the risk of flooding and droughts in certain places, an increased risk in special extinction, heat waves, crop losses, and the list goes on.
As such, the poorest and most vulnerable on planet Earth are the ones that are most affected by these impacts. The African continent stands out for its vulnerability to climate change due to its low capacity to adapt and that, in general, its inhabitants make a living with resources that are tied to climate.
Against this devastating panorama, the past 23rd of September, the UN carried out the Climate Action Summit 2019, where, shown to world leaders was a list of collective activities that were performed to combat climate change and were as follows:
01. Buy local and seasonal produce
02. Take your own bag or container
03. Unplug electronic devices
05. Meatless meals
06. Turn off lights
07. Take five-minute showers (or less)
08. Ecological modes of transportation
09. Sustainable fashion
10. Refill and reuse
With these 10 simple actions, we can understand that our role as individuals goes far beyond ourselves. The coordinated and continuous effort of one person can lead to groups, societies, and even entire countries making decisions in favor of the conservation of the environment.