As the consequences of the global failure to comprehensively address climate change become more and more apparent, it is clear that the environmental effects of unregulated fossil fuel emissions are both irreversible and unavoidable. The U.N. and the World Bank, along with other international organizations, are urging the global community to find a practical solution and actually adhere to it.
The lack of action has caused environmental conditions to worsen, permanently altering our planet and it’s ability to sustain life. Among the effects that are predicted to worsen are the massive extinction of forests, the melting of land ice, the rising of sea levels leading to coastal flooding, the destruction of crops decreasing the food supply, and an immeasurable death toll due to by severe heat waves.
In addition, extreme weather conditions and lack of adaptive survival methods to these natural disasters will lead to unpredictable amounts of human injury and fatality, disproportionately affecting the poor, the underprivileged and the uneducated. According to the U.N. and the World Bank, governments do not have the luxury to delay implementing serious policy changes any longer.
On Sunday, Dec. 14, 190 nations met to discuss a pragmatic way to address climate change, but the effectiveness of the new-style plan is heavily debated. The stark difference between the financial agency of developing and developed nations is creating the doubt. In some cases, it is believed that not all countries will hold their end of the bargain without the aid of wealthier countries.
In November 2014, the U.N. released its most severe warning on climate change to date, according to an article from the New York Times. The 175-page summary report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserts that global warming is no longer a future issue; it is happening now and needs to be addressed.
The World Bank issued a similar warning, which claims that extreme weather events will become the “new climate normal.” The Earth’s atmospheric system is now locked into a fixed warming, and even if strict action were to be taken immediately, this would not be reversed, according to the World Bank report. The World Bank article believes that this will affect poorer communities, stunting the development of these groups now that the World Bank must restructure their budget in order to adapt to the changes.
Although each country has agreed to restrict its emission of fossil fuels to insure that the planet heats to no higher than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level, energy companies have continued to invest billions of dollars in fossil fuel collection with the help of government subsidies. The U.N. report illustrates that only a fraction of the necessary funding is going toward reducing fossil fuel emissions, despite previously made agreements, according to an article by the New York Times.
The new-style deal to create a stricter plan for 2015 was made in Lima, Peru, with each nation agreeing to submit a finalized order by March 31, 2015 that will serve as the basis for a new national agreement to be presented during a Paris summit sometime next year.
The plan is attempting to place equal responsibility on developing countries, although some countries claim it will be more of a hardship for their emerging economies. China, ahead of the U.S., the E.U. and India, is the largest polluter, and although they were excused from cutting emissions in a previous climate agreement, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, they have made a new deal with the U.S. to help bridge the gap. This deal is hopefully leading the way for a partnership between rich and poor countries. However, the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat believes the suspected contributions in Paris will not add up to enough effort to make a difference.
It has become clear that politics, not factual evidence, is driving the fight against global warming. Experts suggest that in addition to an increase in political commitment, universal education is also necessary to safeguard survival, according to a study conducted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) that analyzes natural disaster data in over 167 countries across four decades.
The study, which was published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society, indicates that the answer to reducing the amount of fatalities caused by climate change is universal education. The findings assert that a proper education on natural disasters, with a regional focus, will greater outweigh the benefits of building preventative infrastructure, such as sea walls, dams, irrigation systems, and so on. However, these changes along with cleaner and more efficient energy sources should not be ignored.
“Education directly improves knowledge, the ability to understand and process information, and risk perception. It also indirectly enhances socioeconomic status and social capital. These are qualities and skills useful for surviving and coping with disasters,” said Raya Muttarak, one of the researchers who co-authored the IIASA study.
For humans to adapt to the inevitable effects of global warming, every single individual must possess a greater understanding of the shifts in environmental stability. For humans to survive climate change, the reality of the problem must be admitted, and that has been done. The next step involves a combination of realistic and effective policy changes, legitimate effort from dependable world leaders, and adaptive education of the masses.
“The report makes crystal clear that we cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions. Leaders must step up and take the necessary decisions on how we manage our economies towards clean growth and resilient development,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change. “Urgent and substantial technological, economic, institutional and behavioral change is needed to reverse present trends. Economic development and climate protection can be complementary. We need the political will to make this happen.”
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