Extreme Sacrifices

WHY HAS MOTHER EARTH gone extreme, exhibiting a misbehavior that has shocked and awed us these recent times?

Consider the natural events that we’ve been experiencing: earthquakes occurring in many places worldwide in more powerful intensities, super hurricanes that have lashed and devastated island communities, mighty typhoons that have swept out everything in their lethal path, forest fires that have raged for days.

The reality, astounding it may be, is that extremism has become the new normal, weather occurrences swirling all over this dear planet of ours, courtesy of the changing climes. Yes, it’s all about Mother Nature’s extreme weather behavior, and what we’ve all been taking for granted all these years.

Why has Mother Earth gone extreme? How did all these weather misbehaving ways, if we can call it, develop? The answer takes us back about three centuries ago, in the year 1750 to be exact. It was when scientists the world over began warning Mankind about human activities that have relentlessly produced a 40% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pollutants that have resulted from the combustion of fossil fuel principally coal, oil, natural gas, along with deforestation, soil erosion and animal agriculture. In short, since that far back in the mid-18th century, Mankind has been abusing our fragile environment, wreaking havoc on our precious ecosystem that was to be our lifeline into the future.

Fast forward into present times and we are told by today’s scientific community that if nothing drastic, even revolutionary, takes place to abate our profligate, wicked ways of polluting the global atmosphere, by 2047 — mind you, that’s just 30 years away — the earth’s surface temperature would have radically altered, enough to ignite mankind’s own ill-fated annihilation and extinction.

From that time onward, the dreaded doomsday will materialize for sure, everything, everyone will become part of a worldwide completely desolated landscape. Unless — we are told in no less graphic well-determined terms — we bring down the level of massive pollution now afflicting the planet. Unless we reduce dramatically the greenhouse gas emissions into the earth’s atmosphere. Unless we can individually cut down our use of fossil-fueled gases that have historically dirtied up the global atmosphere. And yes, unless the world’s leading polluters are brought to heel for their extremely errant ways. Unless peoples and leaders take it as their supreme legacy to do today what should have been done in their coal-reliant lifetime to secure a future of responsible stewardship of the only planet we can pass on to the next inhabitants.

Fast back up into the recent past, on December 11, 1997, representatives from over 1560 nations gathered in Kyoto, Japan. After two weeks of global bickering common to consensus-gathering, the world’s leaders hammered out what resulted out as the first global agreement to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement that has been hailed as one of the most inspiring treaties ever signed.

Simply put, the deal was glaringly simple but eloquent enough to give greater force to what must be done. Keep greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity at a level that savants the world over believed would offer the best chance of preventing catastrophic climate change.

This was to be achieved by targeting six gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (used in air conditioning), perfluorocarbons (generated by aluminum production), and sulfur hexafluoride (used in the electrical industry). Obviously because of its lethal effects to the world’s temperature, carbon dioxide was the gas that policy makers were more concerned about.

Back to present climes, in 2015, the Paris climate change agreement was forged to add more teeth to the Kyoto deal. All nations, including the fast-growing economies that China and India have become, would work in concert to keep the global temperature rise in this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That simple, that clear.

In a stunning turn of events, the United States by the folly of just one man who now governs that heavy polluter of a nation opted out from the Paris accord, perhaps giving in to the pro-coal lobby vested groups in his own country. Benchmark calculations have since been made purposely to weigh in the abrupt withdrawal of the world’s top cop. Accordingly, by estimations of the UN Climate Change Commission, total emissions worldwide were dropping by as much as 22.6% vis-a-vis the 1990 levels. While not much progress has been achieved, the worldwide effort to check gas emissions was generating hope, enough for global actions to plod on relentlessly.

Yes, the world was not yet on track to meet the global agreement for a specifically determined emission reduction goal, but the specific strategies laid out to do just that have remained, requiring greater push and shove. Much of the reduction will rely on greater use of renewable energy, natural gas and nuclear power, as well as more energy efficiency measures.

Governments may have a Paris accord to guide their ways. Leaders may demonstrate resolve in ensuring that nations will abide by iron-clad agreements. But, in the end, it is people — yes, you and I and the rest of all us — who must do its share.

Considering the extreme times we are now living in, the most extreme of sacrifices are called upon. After all, extremism is here and now. Doing the right thing is always the better choice, when no other choice is at hand.


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