• Matthew Norton

Climate Change is not Years Away - It is NOW

“Climate Change is a long time away”

“Climate Change won’t affect me”

“What is 1.5 degrees warming anyway!”

“2030 is not for another 9 years. We have time”

These are the types of phrases that many people and governments around the world use to try and downplay the effects of climate change. However, all of these statements are simply not true. Climate change is here. Climate change is happening now. As the cycle of day and night repeats, our planet continues to warm. Sadly, not enough action is being taken by governments, and the actions that are being taken are mostly too little, and too late.

Here’s the thing about climate change. When it first starts to take effect, no one notices it. While the exact date of when climate change was “discovered” varies, we definitely know for a fact that the climate is warming by the new millennium. However, even during that period of time, it was not all that noticeable that the planet was actually warming. There may have been scientists here and there discussing the issue, but there was not the groundswell of popular support that there is now to take action.

However, over time, this will start to change. Severe weather events are starting to occur more frequently due to climate change. To the extent that we’re seeing 30+ year records being broken every other year. Currently, we are seeing a huge amount of weather events, from heatwaves to hurricanes, and fires to flooding. The current hurricane season in the Southeastern and Eastern Seaboard of the United States is much worse than previous years. Hurricane Ida has absolutely devastated the city of New Orleans. Videos of train stations filling with water in New York City are going viral.

The problem is that these disasters are piling up onto already existing issues. In many regions of the world, the infrastructure meant to deal with floods and other extreme weather conditions are outdated, antiquated, and simply not up to the task for this particular job. While New Orleans was dealing with a hurricane, it was also dealing with a surge of Covid-19 in which their numbers reached record highs, while trying to get more people vaccinated against the virus. In Haiti, the most recent Earthquake came on top of a political crisis where the president was assassinated and the next in line died of covid, leaving the country with no real leader. In Germany and Belgium, massive flooding has impacted their economies just as they were reopening to tourists. Australia’s fires at the start of 2020 came, just when it seemed as though most of their government was on holiday.

Only a few countries seem to be taking climate change seriously, and addressing the problem with the urgency that it requires. Morocco has recently built a solar farm as big as the city of Paris. Costa Rica is putting into place a carbon neutral plan, and has a goal to ban fossil fuels. The Gambia is set to reduce its emissions by almost 45%. However, you may realise that these countries are rather small in comparison to larger entities such as the United States, China, Brazil, India, and the like. None of these countries are taking significant steps to stop climate change.

While countries like China talk a big game about climate change, even their goals are insufficient. They want 25% of energy to be produced by non-fossil energy, which is not nearly sufficient.

The United States has been talking about climate change in a serious way since 2012, when Barack Obama had his second term. However, Obama did not do anything significant to reduce emissions, while President Trump took the country backwards regarding emissions. The current president, Joe Biden, has come the farthest and introduced legislation to have a renewable energy standard. However, this may not come to pass the bureaucratic legislative system. Even if the current legislation gets passed, it still wouldn’t be enough.

Australia has been talking about climate action since 2007 when a new government came to power. However, its legislation for a tax on carbon was shot down and no meaningful action has been taken since then. The current government has mocked climate change in the past so it seems there will not be significant action taken in Australia.

Although climate change may seem far off down the road, and not something that needs immediate attention, if we want to meet the 2030 targets, the work should have started years ago. The best we can do is start taking action now. And here’s the thing - once we realise the full and true extent of how bad climate change can get, it will be too late. If in 2030 we have not taken meaningful and global action, it will be far too late. If we see floods and hurricanes become even worse, heatwaves get more unbearable, and if we see more than 1.5°C of warming, it will be too late.