The damage humans have wreaked on the planet during the post-industrial era has propelled the world into a crisis signalling long term global natural disasters and overwhelming damage and destruction to future generations.
The stark warning contained in the recently released IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) review report uses terminology that no person can dare to ignore if they respect nature and the world they live in or have in interest in the future of humanity.
The IPCC report (published 09/08/2021) was compiled over a three-year period with global contributions from world-renowned ecologists and scientists. The terminology used by the experts echoes the gravity of the current global crisis describing it as unequivocal, irreversible, indisputable and disastrous(AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis — IPCC).
The IPCC indicates that nations have delayed action on fossil fuel emissions for so long that global warming cannot be stopped from intensifying over the next 30 years but that there is a small window of opportunity that Mother Nature allows us to prevent a harrowing future.
Human activity has already ‘heated’ the planet by around 1.1ºC / 2 ºF since the 19th century largely as a result of burning coal and gas for energy needs that have supported global industrialisation. The consequence of satisfying these needs has impacted, is impacting globally and will continue to do so.
In recent weeks we have experienced global anomalies in the climate resulting in floods, heatwaves and at the time of writing devastating fires in Greece, Turkey, Canada, USA and Australia. These have caused loss of life, property and livelihoods as well as having a shocking effect on flora, fauna and the landscape, the impact of which will be felt for many decades to come, with some irreversible consequences. Small island nations, like Mauritius have not escaped this impact with flooding and extremes of temperatures in recent months.
According to the IPCC report what we are currently witnessing, and experiencing is only the beginning! In the next 20 years it is likely that the global temperature will rise around 1.5 ºC. Scientists predict that with temperature increase the dangers to humanity and life on earth will grow considerably:
•It is estimated that billions of people are likely to be exposed to more frequent and life-threatening heatwaves.
•Hundreds of millions more will struggle to meet their needs for water due to severe drought resulting in malnutrition, illness and death.
•Melting of the polar ice caps will result in rising sea levels posing significant risks to many low-lying islands and countries, some of which will disappear completely.
•There will be a dramatic increase in abnormal weather events increasing the risk of floods, heatwaves, fires and tsunamis.
•Some animals and plant species will disappear forever.
•Coral reefs, which support tourism and fisheries in places like Mauritius will experience more frequent ‘die-offs’.
•All of these in turn impact on our ability to meet the needs of society in relation to shelter, food, health resources, infrastructure and economic support.
These concerns have been publicly voiced by ecologists and scientists the world over, including in Mauritius, and will result in humanitarian crises on a scale never experienced before globally.
Each of us have contributed to this emerging catastrophe by way of our arrogant behaviour and consumerism. Going forward we all have a responsibility at an individual, family, community and societal level to take action that will positively impact on climate change.
What ecological legacy will you leave for the next and future generations and what part will you play in healing the world?
Soorendra Lingiah lives in the United Kingdom and worked as a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Mental Health.