Nature

You’d be in the minority nowadays to not acknowledge the legitimacy of man-made climate change. As grim a realization it may be, it is difficult to deny that the summers have gotten longer and the winters have gotten warmer in the United States and the rest of the world.

Even in the greater Charlotte area, the effects of climate change have been felt for several years now, with multiple 70 and 80-degree Christmases to round out the holiday season. The spur and subsequent advancement of this unfortunate outcome can be traced to the Industrial Revolution days.

The onset of technological innovation highlights a predictable and easily identifiable pattern of cause and effect. This startling trend inevitably leads us to the current situation, all while acting as active participants in the planet’s slow decline toward climate imbalance.

In countries like Guatemala, the direct effect of the climate crisis appears as droughts that cause food shortages and widespread malnutrition. These conditions have become common in Central America in recent years, as Medical Team International describes: “droughts were no longer seasonal like they had been before. They were prolonged and indefinite.” The solemnity of this statement makes clear the dire situation in the most vulnerable parts of our planet.

In a more progressive update, the United Nations Foundation recently reported that the United States has returned to the Paris Agreement among “other complementary efforts [that] culminated at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow, Scotland.”

However, under the present circumstances, the world takes one step forward and two steps back. The UN Foundation wrote that “time is not on our side, so in 2022 it is imperative to build on what was achieved and succeed where we have previously failed.”

I doubt the global community can attain this goal without serious intervention into the current trajectory of the climate. My skepticism is a reaction to the empty promises met with little action happening around the planet collectively to mitigate one of the most important humanitarian crises in history.

The immediate plan by contributing countries of the United Nations Committee is to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius, which may prove unrealistic without many of the documented 151 countries committing to emission reduction. A valid concern regarding the vitality of the planet both in the present and future rests with the global willingness to reduce emissions, which seesaws from forward to, more commonly, backward.

Not all of the blame for hindered progress lies with the poor judgment of unmotivated countries, especially considering the financial implications of funding the construction of clean energy and the politics involved with allocating funds for an international project.

The inability to adequately fund plans to improve air quality by international governments is disappointing. Meanwhile, people are left wondering when practical steps by their institutions will correct the derailed climate, making up for the damage done to our atmosphere.

At a 2020 gathering called COP26, environmental experts from the UN Foundation stated that “after years of ignoring the issue, loss and damage was a clear priority for COP26 thanks to the persistent efforts of vulnerable countries.” Averting disaster depends on whether these “persistent efforts” end up being enough to bridge the wide gap between apocalypse and survival, a gap that our planet is so far from mending in its current state.

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