Big Smile, No Teeth: Now is the time for action against climate change

  • Environment
  • Sunday, 09 Dec 2018

“The world is at a crossroads” was a chilling statement from four former presidents of the United Nations-sponsored talks on climate change. They went on to state that “decisive action in the next two years will be crucial”.

With this dire opening of the climate talks in Poland, and with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming earlier this year stating that we have “12 years” left with life as we know it, I figured something would have started happening by now. I turned on the television and, lo and behold, there was a debate on the news about “are we doing enough to curb climate change?”

WT actual F.

Sorry about my aggressive use of acronyms but I’m reaching a point of frustration that is bordering on insanity.

For 30 years scientists have been warning us that climate change is going to irrevocably damage our world. The world, led by vested interests in maintaining the status quo of dependence on oil, ignored them. Now we’ve literally been told our way of life will end in 12 years and still we debate what must be done.

Enough. What does it take to make something happen?

How about this?

Original estimates were that the world temperatures could rise 3°C to 5°C by 2100. But now, after four of the hottest years on record, the estimates have changed to 5.4°C hotter by 2070.

The recent UN report revealed that our attempts to ensure carbon emissions peak by 2020 an then begin to fall will fail. This target won’t even be reached by 2030. Which means we will continue pumping carbon into the atmosphere thus adding more fuel for climate change, which is already spreading disaster.

Indeed, this summer season of forest fires around the world was exacerbated by drier, hotter forests. Climate change in effect. This is something we hadn’t foreseen.

Rising sea levels is another story.

Rising sea levels could displace millions in Mumbai, Guangzhou, Miami. Indeed the entire southern part of Florida in the United States could be underwater. Already in Somaliland climate change has killed 70% of the country’s livestock. The drought there has displaced thousands who now live in refugee camps.

In Sudan and Kenya, there is a drought that is worse than any other time in the past 2,000 years. In Vietnam, rising sea levels means the Mekong Delta and its fertile padi fields are contaminated with salt water. More climate refugees.

In Madagascar, the windy season once lasted from January to July, but now it is still on in November. Which means fishermen can’t get their boats out to fish. And, anyway, the seas are overfished to begin with.

We’ve all seen struggling polar bears. Skinny and scraggly, and displaced by growing heat in the Arctic. They might as well be the face of animals and nature struggling to adapt to the changing climate, a climate that is changing much too rapidly for any kind of evolutionary adaptation.

One sixth of species face extinction in the coming climate increase. One sixth of the inhabitants of Earth will die.

Coral reefs are extremely fragile environments that cover 0.1% of the ocean floor but account for 25% of all marine life. A recent study of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the impact of El Nino warmings in 2016 and 2017 revealed that 30% of the corals were killed in 2016 and 20% in 2017 – 50% of the reef died in two years of warming.

Climate change is not going to happen in 12 years. It’s happening now.

And overwhelming you with doom and gloom is actually something climate change advocates say not to do. The idea is that “if you overwhelm people, there’s evidence they can end up in some fatalistic mindset and feel unempowered”.

I’m betting against that. I’m here to say that when it comes to climate change, it is all doom and gloom. Nothing is getting better without us stepping up. If the end of our world makes you sad, it should also be making you angry. So get angry.

Get angry at the corporations who have lied to us for decades to maintain their bottom line. Get mad at politicians that turn a blind eye to protect their own interests instead of protecting our world and all of us. Demand climate action.

We are survivors. If your life is threatened I find it hard to believe that any of us would roll over and let it happen, so I’m not worried about scaring you with sad climate change facts. Now you know how serious climate change is, and how much it’s effecting our world, get out there and do something about it. Demand change. Every climate action counts.

And now is the time for action.

Jason Godfrey's biggest career advice from a photographer was "Big smile. No teeth." He works in fashion, television, and his latest book "Catwalk Fail" is out now. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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