GP Extra Credit: Forget Climate Change – It’s a Climate Emergency

Written by: Anselm Long (19-A4)

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

“I believe that there’s a change in weather and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget it used to be called global warming. That wasn’t working. Then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather because with extreme weather, you can’t miss.” These words, spoken by President Donald Trump regarding climate change, could not have been more wrong. Our globe is in fact, warming, and not changing both ways, as President Trump insinuates. In fact, climate change – rather, a climate emergency – is a reality now. Following the recent scorching heatwave over Europe, it has become increasingly harder to ignore, or outright deny that climate is changing, and not for the better. 

On July 25, less than a month ago, the 72-year-old record for the hottest day in Britain was shattered, not by 1 or 2 degrees, but an astonishing 4 degrees Celsius. Temperatures reached a high of 42.6 degrees Celsius, unfathomable even for Singaporeans living in the sweltering heat. To put this into perspective, the temperature at which the human body starts to sweat is 35 degrees Celsius. Having temperatures above this limit would result in the air being so full of water vapour that sweat no longer evaporates. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it has been calculated that climate change is caused by humanity, by a 95% probability. Climate change is man-made, and it is real. This is no climate change, this is a climate crisis.

According to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), at the current rate of warming, the world’s temperatures would likely increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052, compared to an increase of 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels since the mid-1800s. This 1.5 degree increase may not seem significant, but this would cause significant flooding, and people in low-lying countries – including China, Vietnam and Japan – will lose their homes to the ocean – that’s almost the population of Singapore. Furthermore, if global temperatures were to rise by 2 degrees Celsius, the difference is exponentially larger. In a world 2 degrees warmer, 10 million more people (twice the population of Singapore) will lose their homes to rising seas, half the world would experience water scarcity, and half the species on the Earth will lose their habitats. 2 degrees may not seem like much, but if we ever reach that stage, the world as we know it now will never be the same.

With the magnitude of the issue, one would expect a global state of emergency to be declared by now, yet, there are many climate change deniers around the Earth, who believe that climate change is not happening. Among these is a Republican consultant Frank Luntz, who released a memo in 2002 intending to sow confusion about global warming. Another notable climate change denier is Nigel Lawson, who founded the Global Warming Policy Foundation to oppose climate change mitigation policies. In the United States alone, 13% of Americans do not believe that climate change is man-made, only trumped by Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. 

But, amidst all the naysayers and climate change deniers, there is still hope for Earth. There has been worldwide awareness about the consequences of Fast Fashion – a major contributor to carbon emissions, and many have already been attempting to go green, reducing their carbon footprint on the environment. In the numerous international straw-free movements, students and adults alike avoid using plastic straws to reduce plastic waste. Technology has also advanced rapidly in recent years, providing us with more efficient tools to combat pollution, such as electric cars, which reduce the overall carbon footprint of transportation, and nuclear power, which produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. Other than the United States, countries globally have banded together to implement policies to combat climate change, with the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the Basel Convention to reduce the movement of hazardous waste between borders. With climate change activists like Greta Thunberg pushing for more political changes and international organisations like the IPCC releasing more studies about climate change, there may even be a chance for Earth to survive this.

Yet, if as a species, we don’t band together and dedicate ourselves to this cause, Earth will eventually fall. Hence, the responsibility to protect the Earth falls on each and every one of the 7 billion that inhabit it. Will you choose to take that straw the next time you buy a drink? Or choose to take public transportation instead of using a car? The future of our planet lies in our hands.

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With great power comes great responsibility.

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