The Future of the Planet (Google / Huffington Post)

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Gambling With the Future of the Planet

CARE International Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator

People hate to think what might happen if we fail to stop the worse effects of climate change. Well, as one senior climate scientist said to me recently: “Impacts are happening already and currently we are going to shoot well past two degrees of global warming. It’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready for the major storm… If we act now, we can reduce the overall extent and severity of damage, but we are set for extremes and there will be substantial loss and damage from climate impacts.”

These stark words left me with a rapidly sinking feeling: What type of society are we creating, what type of world are we heading towards? Recent science analysis predicts that we are heading for between 4- 6°C of global warming. Such rapid change in our climate system will bring about profound and in some cases catastrophic damages. This is the stuff science fiction movies are made of: Storms and typhoons will be more frequent and will kill more lives and destroy more infrastructures.

Our ecosystems will be irreparably damaged: Think bleached corals, rainforest dieback, desertification and more wildfires. With rising sea levels, coastal zones will be permanently flooded and whole areas will be lost for habitat and agriculture due to salt water intrusion and salinization. The world’s most vulnerable countries are under threat: The Maldives and Vanuatu are today known as paradise destinations for honeymooners and beach fans. Well, in a climate impacted future, these places might not exist anymore; they will be lost to the rising sea. It is evident that such major changes across the globe within and across nation states will change the very nature of our political and geographic boundaries, potentially exacerbating migration, conflict and security issues around the globe.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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