In the 1950s, when climate change science identified human-induced greenhouse gases as a possible cause of global warming, concern began to grow.
Today, the threat of climate change is well-established, with over 97% of the scientific evidence agreeing that it’s a direct result of our carbon emissions and predictions regarding the state of our world if we fail to address it looking particularly dire.
With the scientific community highlighting such a serious issue, how has it taken so long for us as a society to recognise it? Why is it that even now, some people still don’t really care?
Climate change – an abstract, far-off concept?
The best way to raise awareness regarding a specific problem, and encourage action to address it, is to demonstrate that as a society we’ll be directly affected if we don’t. One of the main reasons support to tackle climate change took so long to grow is that for many this ‘demonstration’ simply wasn’t there.
One of the biggest challenges is the timeline. When we believe we have plenty of time to spare, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to take immediate action; we don’t see it as a priority, especially if we think the consequences of our inaction won’t take place within our lifetime.
However, climate change is no longer forecasted as a far-off potential sometime in the distant future; the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that we’re likely to see significant temperature changes by as early as 2030, and that the chance of severe repercussions in our climate are particularly high.
The next challenge support for addressing climate change faces is the degree of separation; for some people, even if climate change does occur, they struggle to see how it would affect them. If you’ve never experienced a heatwave, a drought, a cyclone, or a flood, for example, it can be hard to envisage how much of an impact they can have.
Again however, this degree of separation is shrinking. As carbon emissions continue to increase (with the Emissions Gap Report 2018 from the United Nations Environment Programme highlighting that we’ve now reached a record high) and the global climate continues to change, we’re seeing more and more extreme weather events, and they’re hitting closer and closer to ‘home’.
Furthermore, the latest reports (the US’ Fourth National Climate Assessment, as well as The Lancet Countdown’s 2018 report) state that not only is extreme weather a concern as is, we should also be aware of the wider effects such as rising water levels, and the increased risk of disruption to our economies, water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security.
The conclusion is very clear; even if we aren’t directly affected by a climate-change-induced weather event, the overall effects of climate change still reach us in a great many ways.
Climate change is not just a theory anymore. It’s not a disconnected, scientific abstract that sits separate from our day-to-day lives.
It’s real, it’s well-documented, researched and assessed, and its effects will have a significant, meaningful impact on our lives, not only in our immediate future but also our present.
Now that we’ve identified the issue, what we need most is to acknowledge it, and take ownership of it.
Thankfully, we’re no longer powerless to have our say in what we do about climate change. While historically we had to rely on politicians and governments to represent our interests, enact policies and direct industry, with the rise of social media and the increased interconnection of our society we can now address and influence emitters directly. By depoliticising the climate change policy debate and embracing a decentralised carbon pricing platform (powered by the blockchain), we can bypass the political fog surrounding climate change and instead distribute equally amongst ourselves responsibility for tackling the problem.
What we do today affects each and every one of us; it’s our climate, here and now.