As changes in the weather and climate extreme events affect the life of every inhabited region across the globe (IPCC, 2021, pp. SPM -11), climate change has become dominant in political debates and headlines. Accordingly, the increased and increasing awareness of the populations, driven by the circulation of scientific information, produce a surge of pressure on the states. Most countries, in fact, appear to be transitioning far too slowly to the net-zero emissions and the reducing global warming below 2°C goals that they agreed to with the Paris Agreements of 2016. As a result, climate litigation from associations, citizens, and even children against governments has almost doubled between 2017 and 2020 (UNEP, 2020). As the evidence of the climate crisis is now irrefutable, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (2021), describing the IPCC Working Group 1 Report as a "code red for humanity," calls for immediate action of both civil society and politics. And being informed is the first step to action.
In 1992, over 1,700 scientists from all over the world warned humanity of the consequences of many anthropic activities and practices on the environment, as these could “put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdom” (Anderson et al., 1992). These “concerned scientists” follow up to the first IPCC report in 1990, the first physical and comprehensive study about climate change, scientifically proving it existed and may be significantly caused by human activities.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an organization created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It currently has 195 member states. Its goal is to provide governments with unanimous and trustworthy scientific information about the environment. Which could be used to develop fitting policies to face climatic emergencies. On August 9th, 2021 the IPCC published the first part of the report on climate change, assessing the current scientific knowledge about the topic. This document, written in agreement by 234 experts from 66 different countries, is the outcome of the review of more than 14,000 papers.
“A.1 It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.
A.1.1 Observed increases in well-mixed greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations since around 1750 are unequivocally caused by human activities. […]” (IPCC, 2021)
Climate change has been a staple phenomenon in the whole history of the world, with the alternate of glacial and warming ages. Even, studies reveal that the current warming is happening at rates way faster than any before. Which makes the consequences of it rough, unpredictable, and incredibly dangerous. The consistent emissions of greenhouse gases, which continuously increase, are responsible not just for the warming as an isolated phenomenon. In fact, the planet Earth is a whole ecosystem, made up of deep and almost uncountable interconnections of atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic elements. As a matter of fact, environmental sciences need to include the study of the atmosphere, the oceans, the whole biosphere (as described on the National Geographic “the parts of Earth where life exists”), and every biotic component, as well as the human interaction with the systems and their effects. Something often underrated is how such interconnection determines that no place on Earth is truly isolated from the rest of the world, as political borders do not condition the spread of climate-altering events in any way. This means that the outcomes of a giant burning tire graveyard in Kuwait will be stronger in that very territory, but will affect any other state of the planet no matter what.
The greatest climate-altering element is the excess GHG, which damages the ozonosphere (the layer of ozone of the atmosphere), causes the acidification of the oceans as they absorb them. On top of that, mainly accordingly to global warming, the results include the intensification of the water cycle, meaning the amplification of calamitous rainfalls and desertification, and the rise of the sea level. These elements set the ecosystems off-balance, causing whole plant and animal species to go fully extinct. According to the IUCN reports (2007, 2009), 869 species are currently completely extinct.
This quick list of effects has further consequences on the socio-economical dimension of whole communities, which depend on the ecosystems they inhabit to obtain the resources they need to live, produce and do any business. The second greatest large-scale problem is the overexploitation of resources, meaning that human activities consume them in a greater amount than the system can reproduce (or reabsorbs) them, exceeding its biocapacity. The Global Footprint Network measures this event, known as “ecological overshoot”, and has been yearly identifying the Earth Overshoot Day. In 2020 that was the 22nd of August, as a global average date, derived by the dates of any country. As a matter of fact, while technology and science have increasingly allowed humans to transform and partially control the nature around them (Boardmann, 2020), the natural environment is still essential to their well-being and survival. Such a critical role is identifiable, for example, by the godly nature that humanity has associated with the forces of the world since the most ancient times.
Nowadays, anthropic activities deeply impact the environment, defining an urgent crisis, which requires immediate action to try to limit the catastrophic outcomes and avoid the whole situation to worsen any further, as human survival is at a stake. The facts evinced in the report should make everyone join those concerned scientists who warned us all almost twenty years ago and cooperate toward the implementation of mitigation solutions. Greenhouse gas emissions, from fossil fuel consumption, intensive farming, and deforestation should be reduced to a net-zero emission to reduce the immediate risks and avoid most of the critical changes becoming irreversible.
1.5 °C has been identified as the point of no return for the increase in global temperature, as it has been estimated that staying below that temperature "would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change" (Paris Agreement, 2016). At 1.2 °C, the threshold is extremely close.
To summarize, climate change is an emergency affecting every human individual around the globe. Its effects will undoubtedly worsen (UN Secretary-General, 2021) and it is imperative to protect life. The Climate Crisis is a responsibility pending on governments, communities, and individuals. Forward to this first-ever global common goal, the increase of awareness is a powerful instrument to action, which is now a responsibility to be carried out throughout the cooperation of civil society and politics.
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