Standing on the Cliff of Climate Change – by Jan Wondra

As world leaders gather this week at the United Nations COP 27 Climate Summit in Cairo, Egypt, the message on this beautiful blue planet we all call home is bleak, leaving us with precious little time to reverse the lesson.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres made his opening remarks Monday at the start of the two-week conference, telling the more than 100 world leaders gathered that “the global fight against climate change will be won. or lost in this crucial decade – on our watch”. .”

Catastrophic drought in Africa causes mass starvation and climate refugees. (Picture/Pixabay)

“Humanity is on a ‘highway to climate hell with the foot on the accelerator,’ warned the UN chief. ‘We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing.. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.”

Guterres stressed that the world faces a stark choice: countries around the world must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are driving catastrophic climate change. This means that the developed countries that are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases must work with developing countries in “a historic pact” to put the world on a low-carbon path. “Failure,” he said, “would lead to climate collapse and catastrophe.”

Already, the pace of greenhouse gas emissions has pushed global average temperatures up by more than a degree Celsius. The resulting climate changes are driving historic droughts, massive wildfires, rising sea levels and record-breaking severe storms around the world. The Paris Climate Agreement commits signatories to limit the increase in global average temperature this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius while continuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1, 5 degree. Any superior spell disaster.

Floods in Germany in 2021. People try to leave their homes so quickly flooded by rising waters that they have become trapped. But the climate changed wildly in 2022, resulting in a historic drought. Photo courtesy of The Sun.com

“We can sign a climate solidarity pact, or a collective suicide pact”, added António Guterres, stressing that the world has the tools necessary to fight against the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, to move us towards clean energy and low carbon technology, but whether it has the will that’s what it’s all about. “A window of opportunity remains open, but only a narrow ray of light remains,” he said.

On Friday morning, US President Joe Biden arrived at the summit, beginning his visit with an address to assembled world leaders. He apologized for the United States’ withdrawal from the global climate accord during the previous Trump administration, telling those gathered that his first act as president was to join the climate accord. He renewed the United States’ commitment to actively participate in reducing carbon-producing emissions.

Biden reminded the world that the recently passed US Inflation Reduction Act made the world’s largest commitment yet to address the causes of climate change and pledged to reduce the contribution of the United States. United to greenhouse gases.

Wildfire smoke can be the equivalent of smoking a few packs a day. Image of Vancouver, Canada as wildfires rage in the west, by CTV News

Developing and Third World countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; The lowlands of Bangladesh have experienced massive flooding, and islands and coastal areas are inundated with seawater.

Poor countries in Africa are seeing fertile areas dry up, and seasonal weather patterns and migration patterns changing, leading to famine and climate refugees. Europe, Australia and the North American continent are experiencing historic wildfires.

Species accustomed to low temperatures migrate to higher altitudes. In the Arctic, climate change is occurring four times faster than near the equator; with the melting of the polar caps and the thawing of the permafrost; releasing greenhouse gases frozen for millennia.

But the backdrop to this conference focused on the growing climate emergency is sobering: the shadow of war in Ukraine, a global energy and cost-of-living crisis, and rising global tensions. Convincing the nations of the world to work together now is a tall order.

Poor countries are bearing the brunt of the actions of wealthier nations and need financial assistance to make the changes they need to make to protect their people and address the climate crisis. Whether or not developed countries are fulfilling their end of the bargain, sustaining these changes while reducing greenhouse gases is a question that needs to be answered. Soon.

The fact is, we all stand on the climate cliff together. One might consider that what happens in other parts of the world doesn’t matter much to this beautiful region of Colorado’s Central Rockies. But it matters a lot. What we all do over the next decade or two will impact our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and the generations that follow them. What will we tell them if we do not act?

Teresa H. Sadler