The heavenly sphere of blue, spinning away in space with stories of millenniums to tell.
Closing in on the bird's view, we encounter reality; a stark reality that you wish you could unsee. A world on a timer, ticking closer to self-destruction every time man finds ways to develop and evolve. Our world and it's many inhabitants are dying, and we are to blame. But our insatiable selfish brains are consciously denying the existence of a crisis that demands attention, solely to continue fulfilling its material desires.
We are experiencing an unprecedented rate of warming. Current extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than natural background rates. Coral reefs predicted to lose at least 90% of their geographical range by 2050. All these scream the obvious: Climate change is here and it is now. The worst part is that the only chance of reversal and at redemption is by bringing the skyrocketing emission curve to steep downward by 2020 i.e. next year. According to the UN, this will require mobilisation efforts akin in scale to the World War II emergency situation.
The Paris Agreement sealed the deal on climate change, stating that we as a society are irrevocably moving towards doom. The Agreement aims to halt the warming to a 1.5°C rise by 2050 which currently is projected at a whopping 4°C. Let me put that into context for you. It was 12,000 years ago that the last Ice Age ended and Earth was 4-5°C cooler and with the current rate of emissions, we are predicting a 4°C rise in temperature in about 30 years time. Weighing 12 thousand years and 30 years projecting towards the same rise in temperature of the planet, it is safe to state that we are in danger of doom! But let's just pull out our recliners in our heavily air-conditioned rooms with a plate of the juiciest steak to satiate our devilish hunger and pretend that more than half of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere right now is not the result of our actions over the span of just the last 25 years. 25 years compared to the whole of human history. Our civilization has brought the planet and its other helpless beings in harm's way.
UN's threshold of 1.5°C is not all rainbows and unicorns either. Coral reefs that adorn ocean beds are predicted to vanish with only 10% left fending for themselves, but with a 2°C rise in temperature, it would be time to bid them goodbye as they disappear forever. With this expected situation, about half of the Middle East and the American West may become inhabitable due to extreme temperatures. But even now, at a time when we are staring right at the face of the crisis which waits hungrily to gobble our pretentious reality up, we are nowhere near as concerned as we must be. We aren't acting like we are in danger, and this deadly ignorance will likely hand us over to hell.
The hellscape we are and have been painting for ourselves is deliberately or unconsciously the result of activities that we don't usually give a second thought to. From our everyday diet to occasional airline trips, we have been choking the atmosphere with lethal vapours in quantities shockingly huge. One kilogram of beef, for instance, has a carbon opportunity cost equivalent to driving a new car for a YEAR or flying from London to New York and back. Every serving of meat we consume has produced carbon equal to that emitted by a car during a 3-mile drive. The carbon opportunity cost of meat is extremely huge thanks to the fact that cattle, sheep, goats and buffaloes are ruminants, implying they produce methane (which is 25x more potent than carbon dioxide) during metabolic processes.
Additionally, livestock alone accounts for 14% of global greenhouse emissions which is almost equal to transportation (all cars, ships and planes combined), according to reports on climate change. If the land dedicated to feeding livestock was used to cultivate for human needs, the UK alone could absorb 9 years worth of emissions. If these figures, that clearly point out that something as insignificant as our diet is responsible for aggravating our planet's deteriorating state isn't enough for us to realise that we have been doing it wrong all along, then we are better off facing extinction.
It is not my will to educate the reader on how to go about saving our planet, but it is my cynical heart's thirsty wish to unearth that sense of guilt buried safely in the confines of a coffin that reeks of denial. It is for you to deliberately encounter the realisation that (as stated by Tanya Steele - Chief Executive of WWF) we are the first generation to realise that we are destroying the world and we could be the last that can do anything about it.