The year 2030 is only 12 years away.
My sons will be 28 and 31—really just beginning to live their adult lives.
I will still be working, unable to retire until probably closer to 65.
And the crisis that we have failed to address—climate change—will have caused significant, life-altering changes to our planet.
The saddest part of what will come is that we have the power to act and to make changes—and we have simply chosen not to.
This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report that indicates global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2030. The report confirms that global warming due to emissions will “persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise.”
The result of the projected level of global warming will include flooding, droughts, extreme heat, damage to ecosystems, species loss and extinction, and significant impacts to coastal regions and industries, such as fishing. The impact on humans will be significant as well, with food and water supplies threatened and the real threat of the spread of disease.
Limiting the impacts of global warming would require “unprecedented changes” to our current policies, but it is not outside the realm of possibility. President Trump, however, has not yet read the report and has questioned the veracity of global warming.
So, it is up to us.
Our voices must be one on this issue. This is not a partisan or a political issue. This impacts the entire planet: 7.442 billion humans, countless animals and plant life, and the most miraculous combination of beauty and science ever imaginable.
We must raise our voices loud and clear. There is no time to waste—we must take action now on a broad scale and with significant impact. Raise awareness. Raise concern. Bring this issue to the forefront and challenge others to take action.
Our vote must be leveraged. Anyone who is currently in office who does not acknowledge the science of climate change or who will not vote to radically change policies in order to reduce the impact must be voted out of office.
Write letters, emails, and op-ed pieces in order to let your elected officials know that this is an issue that matters to you and to others. Know where your candidates stand on this issue. Make your vote count.
Our actions speak louder than anything. Small changes now or big changes later is the choice. So far, the changes we have made have not been enough, so it is time to step it up.
Consider your lifestyle—where is there an opportunity to make a change that will make a difference? Convert to renewable energy sources? Increase the number of plant-based meals you have in a week? Reduce the amount of plastic used by eliminating straws, to-go cups, and takeout containers? Use public transportation?
The debate now is not whether or not climate change is real. The discussion should only be about what action we can take to reduce its impact and protect our planet.
In our own small piece of the world, we must examine what we are willing to do to save the planet.
There is no time to waste.
In the words of astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What’s our excuse?”