It snowed over 4 inches this past weekend in New York City. It is still October. So much for global warming.” The current President of the United States, Donald Trump has tweeted his ‘concern’ regarding global warming. Unfortunately, the condition is just about the same in the rest of the world — minus the tweeting. Around the world, leaders fail to implement policies directly addressing global climate change, and almost no effective consensus has been reached internationally to tackle the same!
Earlier this year, Indonesia announced plans to shift its capital city, something almost unheard of. Jakarta is home to over ten million people and because of climate change, some parts of Jakarta are sinking by as much as 25 cm per year. But it’s not a standalone incident — over 8 Pacific Islands have been swallowed by the sea over the last century!
Now, a recent UN report indicates that we have less than 12 years to reduce our Global Carbon Footprint before the effects of Climate Change become irreversible. It is possible that we are on the brink of Earth’s sixth mass extinction and the first (and probably the last) man-made mass extinction. With the increase in unnatural weather patterns and natural disasters, it only seems obvious that climate change should be our first priority. So why is it so difficult for our world leaders to take drastic action? What is stopping them from carrying out policies that would ensure these changes?
One reason could be because of the vast difference of economic growth in different countries. Poorer countries with more natural resources are unable to ensure their protection. Meanwhile, more developed nations are being considered self-righteous as the same companies that exploited the resources are now advising caution.
Journalist Andrew Revkin, who has traveled to many parts of the world on behalf of National Geographic, has noted that despite climate change being viewed as a severe issue in developed and newly industrialized countries, “The rich ‘we’ can afford to convert to clean energy and cut vulnerability to heat, floods […] the rest of humanity is still struggling to get the basic economic benefits that we’ve gotten from burning Fossil Fuels.” Essentially, states and nations with starving or struggling populations are unlikely to think about climate change when they are too busy trying to figure out when they’re going to get their next meal.
From their perspective, this logic makes sense. Why should these countries, many of whom are oppressed by these developed nations, make any commitments which may hurt their chances of economic growth? Of course, due to international pressure and the increasing threat, many of these countries have also begun to take action, however, they remain hesitant in enacting laws that can reduce carbon emissions, mostly due to a lack of resources to enforce it or due to fear of hurting their fragile economy. This is the first example of how fear of interrupting the current socio-economic environment prevents us from mitigating climate change since poorer countries don’t want to restrict their growing economies.
Another reason may be sustainable development. Economic and infrastructure development has been cited to upstage environmental violations routinely, claiming to render to the principle of “sustainable development’’. This statement is only declaratory in nature, as it provides a kind of ‘excuse’ for leaders to keep climate change to the margins. Across the globe, we see a group of people who choose to place their own opinions above the facts. An increasing number of people are citing climate change as the latest apocalyptic scam. A recent study by psychologists in 2017 ‘Perceived Mitigation Threat Mediates Effects of Right-Wing Ideology on Climate Change Beliefs’ highlighted the reasons for the increase of people in denial about climate change. A noticeable high correlation between the behaviors of the Right-Wing Authoritarianism scale and the Social Dominance Orientation Scale was seen when it came to the subject of the mitigation of climate change. In other words, right-wing supporters were more likely to be fearful of changes in the social hierarchy and dispute the research on climate change. The rest of the study can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/experimentations/201704/why-do-people-want-refute- climate-change
We are one minute away from midnight, and it is time that we come together to deal with a crisis that will not be restricted within borders or within walls; one that would truly be global in nature. Though we have been failed by those before us, we still have 12 years to reverse this pre-appointed curse on us. Our leaders may be too afraid to enact change, however, we are the ones who will be remembered as the generation that saved humanity from itself. It is time we took matters into our own hands and stopped waiting for world leaders to wake up from their slumber of ignorance.
Student of Pathways World School, Gurgaon