Climate Change: An Injustice To All, IPCC says “No One Will Be Untouched”
by Letters 4 the Damned
Dear Fellow Mankind,
Climate change in and of itself is an injustice. Whether it is one we reinforce in our consumer-oriented culture is debatable. The fact is the dangers are real, both to us and everyone else. It seems we are more concerned with immediate results and improvements and through that we forget that problems also develop over time. The IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released a report this Monday warning the public of forthcoming “flooding, storm surges, droughts, and heat waves” due to globally rising temperatures. (Demetriou, 2014) The chairman of the IPCC warns, “that no one on the planet will be untouched by the damaging effects of global warming in coming decades.” The report warns of affects on all types of communities from the flooding of undeveloped areas like Bangladesh to urban communities that will face heat waves, droughts, water shortages, extreme rainfalls, and landslides. It is true that we have all (mostly the developed world) contributed to this disastrous outcome and in that sense we’ve committed an injustice upon our neighbors and ourselves. American lifestyles typically emit around four times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to that of the developing world. Buildings alone emit half of the world’s green house gases. As is often said in urban sustainability we must “act locally, and think globally.” This notion of incremental improvement is further substantiated by todays IPCC report. “Scientists behind the report stated that by taking immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions over the coming decades, there could be a reduction in potential consequences by the end of the century.” (Demetriou, 2014) This reduction is vital if we wish to leave a livable world for our future generations. Climate change affects weather patterns and these weather patterns affect the quality and livability of our lives. Weather patterns such as drought can result in civil wars and the creation of “climate refugees,” a term coined by Dr. Pachauri that refers to communities displaced by the effects of extreme weather patterns. The most damaging effects of climate change have been hitting the worlds poorest the hardest. These individuals, though they do not emit nearly the same amount of greenhouse gases, are and have been in danger the most. “While the problems from global warming will hit everyone in some way, the magnitude of the harm won’t be equal, coming down harder on people who can least afford it, the report says. It will increase the gaps between the rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old, and men and women.” (“IPCC: Effects of climate change,” 2014) This is injustice and it is time we, as people of the world, demand higher regulation of our heaviest polluting industries and support sustainable practices in our communities. This is not an injustice that one man or one group of scientists can address, we must all take part. Whether you plant an urban garden, invest in alternative energies, act as an environmental advocate in your community, or simply just recycle, your efforts to reduce our carbon footprint can help restore some justice to everyone. As Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press release this Monday “Denial of science is malpractice.” Unfortunately there’s no doctor or hospital to sue, there is just us.
As sea levels rise, islands disappear, and severe weather like droughts and storms increase, more and more people will be displaced. These Somali refugees were displaced by severe floods that killed at least 85 people. Other climate refugees include people from the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu who are facing the reality that their island may completely disappear. Some experts predict that the number of climate refugees could reach 1 billion by the 2050. (The Huffington Post, 2010)
The Huffington Post. (March 18, 2010). Climate Refugees. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/15/seeing-the-effects-of-cli_n_423339.html?slidenumber=BElyYCr%2F5Ig%3D&slideshow
Demetriou, D. (March 31, 2014). IPCC report: ‘No one will be untouched by climate change.’ The Telegraph. Retreived March 31, 2014, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10733764/IPCC-report-No-one-will-be-untouched-by-climate-change.html
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press. (March 31, 2014). IPCC: Effects of climate change ‘worse than we had predicted. Al Jazeera America. Retrieved March 31, 2014, from http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/3/30/ipcc-climate-changeglobalwarmingimpacts.html