There is ample evidence that if the international community does not act immediately and effectively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, tipping points will be passed, after which feedback loops such as the albedo effect, the methane hydrate feedback loop, or forest drying, fires and feedback, will take over, making human efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change useless.
Record temperature extremes in Europe
In the United Kingdom, on July 19, 2022, the nation's first-ever temperature above 40 degrees Celsius was experienced. The UK government also issued its first-ever red heat alert. Hospitals in the UK cancelled operations because operating theatres were too hot. Londoners were advised not to use the city's transport network because of the heat.
During the same week, record-breaking extreme temperatures killed very many people in Europe. In Spain, in some municipalities, temperatures up to 45 °C were recorded. In Portugal, where temperatures reached 46.7 °C, health authorities reported that 659 people had died from heat-related causes. In Spain, 829 heat-related deaths were recorded, according to the health ministry.
In France, Spain and Portugal, firefighters battle large numbers of out-of-control fires caused by high temperatures and drought. Wildfires are raging not only in France, Spain and Portugal but also in Croatia, Greece and Turkey. The French government has already evacuated 25,000 people from fire-struck regions.
Record temperatures and wildfires in the United States
Record high temperatures and out-of-control wildfires are experienced in Europe, North Africa and China, and the United States, especially in the nation's South-West region. For example, in New Mexico, the vast Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon fire is destroying everything in its path. One hopes that temperature records and wildfires will make the American public more aware of the existential dangers of climate change.
According to UNICEF, “Four billion people - almost two-thirds of the world’s population - experience severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. Over two billion people live in countries where water supply is inadequate. Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025.”
Of course, climate change is responsible for increasing water scarcity, and the continued use of fossil fuels is responsible for climate change.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleads for international action on climate
“We have a choice, collective action or collective suicide”, Guterres told diplomats from 40 countries gathered for a three-day climate conference, “It is in our hands”. The Secretary-General also said that the Paris conference goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C “is on life support”, and he continued, “Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, and ocean heat have broken new records. Half of humanity is in the danger zone from floods, droughts, extreme storms, and wildfires. No nation is immune. And yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction... Nations continue to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for our collective future. We cannot continue this way. We must rebuild trust and come together - to keep 1.5 alive and build climate-resilient communities... We need to demonstrate at COP27 that a renewables revolution is underway. There is enormous potential for a just energy transition that accelerates coal phase-out with a corresponding deployment of renewables.”
The United States is uniquely bad at climate action
According to an index developed by Yale and Colombia universities, the United States ranks 43rd among nations on environmental issues. What is the reason for this extremely bad performance? One reason is that during Donald Trump's presidency, he claimed that climate change was a hoax, and acted accordingly to destroy existing environmental legislation. His last act as president was to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing extremist judges. This rogue Supreme Court recently ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency may not restrict the emission of greenhouse gasses.
The current president of the United States, Joe Biden, is not as bad as Trump. Indeed it would be hard to find anyone as bad as Trump! But Biden has failed miserably to carry out his campaign promises of climate action. He has authorized drilling for new oil wells off-shore, on public lands, and in Alaska. In his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, one of Biden's aims was to ask Saudi Arabia to increase its production of oil, in order to reduce gasoline prices in the US and thus increase his own political popularity.
Sacrificing the earth on the altar of economics
Not only the United States but most other countries as well, seem to place a healthy economy ahead of the existential need to save the world from catastrophic climate change. This explains the failure of last year's Glasgow climate conference to produce any real progress. The future of the earth, our only home, is being sacrificed for the sake of present comforts, and for the sake of corporate profits.
What will happen if we fail?
If we fail to control catastrophic climate change, then, in the long run, most parts of the world will become uninhabitable, and very many plants and animal species will become extinct. The population of humans will be greatly reduced, and the struggle to survive will lead to violent conflicts. However, the human species will not necessarily become extinct, since there will be parts of the earth where survival will still be possible.
We need popular action now!
The people of the world must wake up to the dangers of catastrophic climate change. All of us must put as much pressure on our governments as possible to stop sacrificing the earth on the altar of economics, and embrace the Green New Deal, creating both renewable energy infrastructure and new jobs.