The already iconic global warming images with polar bears sadly floating on small chunks of ice have acted as a double edge sword – on one hand they were impacting visual representations of global warming, showing the extent of damage which has already been done, but on the other hand, they created the idea that global warming is something isolated, something which only affects remote places of the Earth; nothing could be further from the truth! Climate change is real, it’s a huge problem for our entire planet, and it’s coming to a town near you – or as the IPCC puts it, “the polar bear is us”.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently warned the world that the effects of climate change won’t just affect ‘far-off’ species such as the polar bear. The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body regarded by many as the highest authority when it comes to estimating the overall status of the climate. At a scientific gathering in Japan, Patricia Romero Lankao of the federally financed National Center for Atmospheric Research summed up her peers’ concerns by saying: “The polar bear is us.”
Here’s just a glimpse of what’s happening in the world right now: crops are starting to suffer due to climate change threatening global food security. Many areas of the world are experiencing massive droughts, ocean acidification is already causing massive damage to the world economy, we’re already having climate refugees in the US, 1.700 cities in the US alone (not to mention Europe) are under threat of being covered by water, extreme events such as hurricanes are becoming more and more often, and I could go on for days! To cut a long story short, it’s happening everywhere, and there’s not a single corner of this planet that’s left unharmed by climate change. That’s also the conclusion of this new report released by the IPCC.
“Climate change really is a challenge in managing risks,” says the report‘s chief author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science in California. “It’s very clear that we are not prepared for the kind of events we’re seeing.”
The American Association for the Advancement of Science agrees – it recently published a new fact sheet on global warming that says:
“Climate change is already happening. More heat waves, greater sea level rise and other changes with consequences for human health, natural ecosystems and agriculture are already occurring in the United States and worldwide. These problems are very likely to become worse over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond.”
It’s happening, and the more we deny it, the more we try to stick our heads in the sand, the more damage we will do. It’s time to man up and face the facts – and act accordingly.