Deadly and destabilizing extreme heat, wildfires, floods, droughts, and storms are affecting more and more people each year, but climate scientists say there is still some hope to keep Earth habitable into the future. Immediate action to end fossil fuel use across the world and build a safe and sustainable planet is absolutely essential – and we cannot rely on self-serving governments and corporations to do the job.
In a recent report in The Guardian, 45 top climate researchers from every continent mostly agree that we have not yet reached the tipping points that could cause runaway acceleration of the climate crisis; instead, this summer’s record high temperatures are solidly in line with the steady predictions climate models have been making for decades. That is to say, governments across the world have been fully informed that this was coming, and their inaction is deliberate and deplorable.
Meanwhile, while temperature increases have not exceeded predictions, the human impacts have been much worse than expected. This is because extreme weather events have been combining with social, political, and economic crises to create absolutely devastating impacts for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The scientists interviewed for the report make it fully clear that recent extreme events are “frightening, scary, and concerning” and emphasize that “if we do not halt global warming soon, then the extreme events we see this year will pale against the ones that are to come”.
In the report, Prof. Malte Meinshausen bemoans “humanity’s stubbornness to spew out ever-higher amounts of greenhouse gases.” He’s right that we must end greenhouse gas emissions as soon as we can. But this stubbornness is not humanity’s it is of the One Percent of capitalists and their CEOs and politicians, the tiny minority with any power to make decisions about our society’s priorities. There is an extremely small window of time to prevent uncontrollable, runaway climate change. To keep global heating to a minimum and support communities impacted by the disasters to come, we must reorganize our society and create a world where humanity as a whole, not just a few rich people, has power.