Code Red for Humanity

August 26, 2021  Letter-to-Editor by Vic Elam, Marietta, Ohio

“Code red for humanity” that is what United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterras stated, in regard to the latest report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

With more than 300 authors using 14,000 scientific papers the IPCC pulls together a wealth of corroborating information about the severity of the current impacts of climate change, but also the consensus about the severity of climate change going forward, of course depending on how well the human population rises to the challenge facing us.

“We’re in danger of going down in history as the species that chose to monitor its own extinction rather than taking urgent steps to avert it,”says Caroline Lucas a member of UK parliament. 

Emissions from the use of fossil fuels for heating, power generation, industrial processes, to propel cars, trucks, ships and more release carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, often referred to as greenhouse gases because they trap heat in our atmosphere. Some of the findings in the IPCC report of note are:

The last five years have been the hottest on record since 1850. Sea levels have risen almost three times as much in recent years, when compared with 1901-1971. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is at its highest in two million years. Methane and nitrous oxide are at their highest levels in 800,000 years. 

The science community has been warning about climate change for decades and it has all but fallen on deaf ears and it has not been until the evidence has impacted livelihoods that we start listening. 

We are now at what most scientists consider to be a critical point – we control our fate, and by we, I mean each and every one of us has the ability to have an impact. I am reminded of a favorite quote by Jane Goodal, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

It’s easy to think that the little things that you can do reduce your environmental impact can’t make a difference, but collectively we can all make a huge difference. 

If you decide you want to make a huge difference individually there is a lot of opportunity for that as well, get involved in organizations such as Citizens Climate Lobby, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, or Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. 

I invite you to find out more about the IPCC report and challenge you to make a difference for the future of humanity.

Vic Elam