As a lay person, I’ve been interested in the environment and climate change for about a decade. However it was a few years ago- when I watched my child pull off her coat because she was too hot to ski (it was 55 degrees on that January day) – that I became truly passionate about the topic. I could tell things were going in the wrong direction but never really understood why I should care. Sure, I knew we had to address the problem, but would it matter if the Earth got a little hotter? Do we really need giraffes? Wouldn’t it be nice if the winters were a little less arduous? Wallace-Wells explains why it’s important and the answers are frightening.
You need to read the article for all of the details, but here are a few examples that struck me. Heat waves will become the new normal, especially in places where air conditioning is untenable and not the panacea we hope it can be. This temperature increase will make people unable to live in those places. That issue, in combination with rising sea levels, will cause migration and overcrowding in areas that are relatively safer (think more competition for the same amount of resources). Many crops will fail to grow (many need colder weather to thrive) and the oppressive heat will make it physically detrimental for humans to harvest the plants that do succeed. (Wallace-Wells writes about this issue already happening in South America.) The oceans will start warming to dangerous levels, which means a lot of the fish and seafood species that we eat will perish. The list goes on. *
Whether or not you believe Wallace-Wells, one can see what’s happening for oneself. Each year keeps getting hotter and breaking heat records. Rain is falling in Winter, when it should be snowing. Fire season is getting longer, more destructive and harder to beat due to hot and dry conditions. Wallace-Wells writes that soon the coolest days in certain regions will be warmer than the hottest ones of their past. He writes, “humans used to watch the weather to prophesy the future; going forward, we will see in its wrath the vengeance of the past.”
So what can we do? Wallace-Wells doesn’t offer a lot of practical suggestions (I think his goal was more to alarm you into action) though he does say scientists have some expensive ideas that come with unpleasant side effects. I really encourage you to read the article because it will inspire you to make some changes. (He also published a longer book version with the same title in 2019.) In the meantime, we hope to offer you some ideas here at GreenLifeNH. Also remember the power of voting! We need leaders who accept there’s a problem and are willing to combat climate change. There is no time to call it a hoax. – Rachel
*Some scientists argued that Wells was overly dramatic and got his facts wrong. However most critical responses were positive and applauded the strength and urgency of the article. Our Earth is changing and we must get serious if we want to save ourselves.