“By 2100 the Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and, if possible, to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. However, according to the United Nations, our current trajectory will at best limit the increase in temperature to 3°C (or more)" (1). In fact, the actions taken so far by governments and institutions are NOT meeting the crucial need to reduce CO2 and CH4 emissions, and this, despite of the Paris Agreement. CO2 emissions continue to increase in most countries, at an alarming rate of 2% increase per year.
The impacts of the sudden environmental change may not ring the bell a lot for most people, and some people even downgrade the seriousness of the situation by calling it a "religion". But climate change is very real, it follows a logic of causes and consequences, it is a dramatic event, a non-return point that threatens human civilization. Climate change is often downgraded to a weather issue, but it goes far beyond that. It is an unreversible loss of living species (and we already lost a lot), the disappearance of resilient ecosystems, of food stocks, of land, an opportunity for pathogens to cause outbreaks. Our ability to produce food, of access to clean water, has started to be questioned in some countries.
It is important to first understand that the loss of species is a non-reversible process, a non-return point. During the past 40 years, from 25% to 40% of species of the major kingdoms (insects, birds, fishes, mammals, reptiles and amphibians,...) have been lost. These will not recover, even though if we manage to bend down the CO2 emissions. How the loss of biodiversity is impacting our life is however more difficult to comprehend for most people. All animal and floral species create food-webs that are deeply linked to the ecosystem's functions and stability (2). To take a simple example, we need bees to pollinate flowers of fruit trees and vegetables. Dave Goulson, a biology professor at the University of Sussex and a leading bee expert and conservationist, explained that around three-quarters of the crops grown by humans depend on, or benefit from, pollination from insects like bees (3). The decline in fruit production is happening right now in multiple countries. In Bulgaria for example, between 1992 and 2016 production of fruit and vegetables in Bulgaria decreased nearly threefold (4). If we fail to address this urgent issue, "Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, runner beans, courgettes, chili peppers, tomatoes, and most of the fruits and vegetables which provide a lot of our vitamins would be gone." explained Prof. Goulson. "We'd basically have to survive on wind-pollinated crops like rice, wheat barley, and corn. Bread and porridge would be our lot, basically, and life would be pretty crap." (3)
One could also mention the worrying case fishes stocks, as 50% of the human population depends a lot on fish stocks. Taking the example of the Tuna fish, a 74% decline was recorded in 2015 (5). The intensive fishing, the loss of coral reefs, and pollution such as plastic pollution (which often goes way beyond our imagination), the acidification of the ocean (the first of past millions of years), are causing the rapid decline of fishes populations. The economic and societal impact is alarming for countries which economy is based on fishing (such as Vietnam).
All species are concerned by climate change, and I invite you to read this year's recent (and very serious) scientific publications - which should be taken very seriously -
“Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines” https://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/E6089
“Mammal diversity will take millions of years to recover from the current biodiversity crisis” https://www.pnas.org/content/115/44/11262” (and in a summary in French in 7)
For the sake of our civilization, of our generation and our children’s generation, we have the moral duty to prevent further dramatic events by acting starting now.
Now, people often ask “Ok, what do I do about it?” Well, we must take action at all levels. This starts from our own individual level, we must change our consumption habits (consume less and smarter), behave more respectfully toward the environment. We must engage in local and regional actions to clean or preserve natural environments, and engage people around us to do similar actions. Also, we must vote and support political actions or ask for new politic systems that give a clear priority to ecological issues and sustainable economy. At the scale of community and governments, it is important that the ecological transition is getting financed. It requires each country to do create a paradigm shift to redirect money and adapt their financial system toward ecological transition, a huge effort that is far more demanding than the efforts made by the US to send a few of us on the moon.
I hope you find those informative and hopefully it will make a good read that you could share around you. Thank you for reading!
Read our other articles:
Individual actions: So, what can I do? (to come soon)
Financial opportunities (to come soon)
Political willingness, promises, and true actions (to come soon)
Financing the energy transition and sustainable economy: a European Pact initiative
(1) European Economic and Social Committee NAT/735, European Finance-Climate Pact, Opinion