40 years baked in.... by moses seenarine
When I was a child in the 1960s, I cared deeply for the environment and wildlife, and I remembered at the time blaming adults for not doing more to stop the ongoing devastation of forests and animals. Few adults seemed to care, and less even tried to do something about a crisis I saw as real.
I am fifty years now, and have observed more ruined habitats and loss of biodiversity than I ever imagined possible as a child. Moreover, during the last three decades, I was witness to a new and rapidly increasing danger – severe weather and abrupt climate change.
Back in the 1960s, I did not know that the carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases (GHG) being emitted then, waited around forty years to take effect, and would cause climate change in the 21st century. In that peace-loving decade, under 10,000 Teragrams of carbon dioxide was being released annually, but by 2010, that amount had more than tripled.
At the start of this century, I began to notice increasingly devastating storms and higher temperatures, caused by GHGs emitted in the 1960s. How would the over 30,000 Teragrams of carbon dioxide released annually now, affect the world 40 years hence? How more severe will weather and storms get, and how much higher will temperatures be, with 40 years of GHG emissions baked in?
I have an eight year old child who cares a lot about the environment, animals and global warming, and who probably blames adults for not caring about the world he will inherit, like I did growing up. Forty years from now, I will probably be dead, but the children of today will exist in a world in crisis. caused by climate change. What is my responsibility to them and future generations?
By 2052, the average temperature will go from the current 0.8°C increase relative to pre-industrial times, to plus 2.0°C or more. For a given geographic area, the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past. There will be more drought in drought-prone areas, more rain in rainy areas, more extreme weather (strong winds, torrential rains, intense heat spells), more melting of glaciers and the Arctic sea ice, somewhat higher sea levels, and a more acidic ocean. Ecosystems will move poleward and uphill.
There will be massive biological and social consequences, especially in the tropics where I grew up. Plants and animals in the tropics are accustomed to a narrow temperature range, and organisms that do not have the genetic capacity to adapt to rapid climatic changes will be forced to move, or will be driven to extinction.
During the last four decades, I was part of a world that created the emissions that my child now has to deal with. Each year, as I continue adding to my total GHG footprint, I am affecting future lives. Recognizing all this, I am trying to make a difference by eating plant-based foods, conserving energy and driving less. I started an organization, Climate Change 911 (CC911.net) to raise awareness and encourage others to change. I am getting on-board the People's Climate Train to attend the People's Climate March in NYC to help bend the course of history. I am finally doing what I wanted adults to do when I was a child, and what my child would want me to do for the 40 years of emissions I helped to bake in.