Since I became interested in global warming and the climate crisis the world is currently facing, I repeatedly found myself wondering if there was some space for the younger generation to be optimistic.
Let me explain. According to the latest statistics on the topic, we could expect massive upheavals as early as 2040, with 50 million people exposed to the risks of flooding, which in turn will affect the lives of many others around the globe. The Public Library of Science has published a paper explaining that an additional one billion people will be exposed to tropical diseases by 2080, as the consequences of the rise of temperatures worldwide. Last year, the British Environment Agency warned that England, our rainy England, will suffer from drought starting in 2045. The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050 about 250,000 people will die each year due to causes attributable to climate change.
In 2050 I will be 56 years old. I always imagined myself in my fifty living in the city of my dreams and being a successful woman, a loving wife and a cool mother. And why not, even jogging in the morning with a brown Labrador. Now I started to wonder: will I actually be able to do that? How will the current climate crisis affect my life? Can I be optimistic and keep dreaming about my future? Because that’s what I want, be optimistic about our destiny.
A rise in temperatures of between 3 and 3.5 degrees would trigger much worse suffering than anything human beings have experienced in several millennia of clashes, conflicts and wars. The consequences of that rise would be so bad to make us regret these dark moments in our history. Yet these consequences already promise to make a great mockery of us and our distorted sense of reality. The ecological tragedies we have unleashed with our senseless land use and fossil fuel consumption - at a relatively slow pace for a century, and then fast for a few decades - will play out in the millennia to come on the stage we all call Earth.
Climate change is an evolving threat that brings great uncertainty. When will our planet get two degrees warmer? And three degrees warmer? How much will the sea level rise by 2030, 2050 and 2080? Which cities will be flooded, which forests will become arid, in which parts of the world will it become impossible to inhabit? Unfortunately, the precedents do not invite optimism. After three quarters of a century since global warming was first recognized as a problem, we have not made any significant corrections to energy production or consumption in order to take into account the danger we are experiencing.
Truth be told, climate change presents some dark prospects for the next few decades, but I don’t believe the right answer to this challenge is to surrender or retreat. I think this is the time when we all have to get involved and strive in every way possible to ensure that the planet offers a dignified and prosperous life to all our future selves and future generations. Let's not give up yet let’s not accept a bleak future determined by other people who do not understand, or worse ignore, the gravity of the problem linked to the climate crisis.
I would stress that the battle is not yet lost, far from it. And in reality it will never be lost, as long as we manage to avoid the extinction of the human species. Although the planet is overheating, we alone can dictate whether each new decade will have more or less suffering than the previous one. So do we have any hope? It is up to us to make the right choice.
Written by Miriam Tagini