“We are not doomed.” That’s the mantra I whisper silently to myself as I read articles on the current and future impacts of climate change, because if I don’t have hope for the future I won’t be able to keep fighting for there to be a future.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report on Monday with a clear message for policymakers and the general public: Our current initiatives to lower carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are not strong enough to achieve the goal of limiting the global average surface temperature by 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. The report came to the conclusion that while we as a country plan to make significant changes in an attempt to combat climate change, these changes will not be sufficient to meet our goal. We need stronger initiatives despite the short-term sacrifices we will have to make. The IEA calls for action by five different methods to combat climate change: 1) an increase in renewable energy 2) a decrease in the use of coal 3) more investment in energy efficiency 4) lowering subsidies for fossil fuels 5) capping emissions of methane. These methods to combat climate change are difficult tasks that will require a lot of international cooperation and a will to risk slowing economic growth.
This report is a wake-up call. It is unnerving to see how close we will come to letting global surface temperatures rise significantly. At the same time, I am very hopeful that with the right amount of effort we can reach the goals set by the IEA. I know that if we put enough effort into solving the climate change problem, just like the push that put a man on the moon, we will be able to take huge leaps forward toward a better planet that future generations will inherit. Soon my generation will inherit the Earth and hopefully we will have more power over the choices that we make as a global community. But time is ticking. I sometimes find myself counting seconds and adding up the number of trees that are cut down every minute. It’s quite depressing when I think of how powerless I am when all I really have is my voice. Individually, I may be loud, but in the big scheme of things I’m only a whisper. What excites me is that many other people are whispering too, and more and more people add to the noise every minute. As more reports like this come out, more action is being taken to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
We need all voices to call upon our senators, congressional representatives, and executive officials to pursue stronger global warming initiatives, to be leaders on this important issue, not followers. The UN climate conference this coming December in Paris will be a critical factor as countries need to work together to come up with better agreements on how to go about tackling the climate change problem on an international level. We need ensure that at this conference and future conferences on climate change, our voices are heard. We need to be loud enough to create a deafening roar that drowns out opposition toward taking an aggressive stance on fighting climate change. We are not doomed.