Look back over the last decade, and what stands out. There has been 3 major trends of discussion:
Terrorism - hopefully now on the decrease after the end of G.W Bush in the White House
The Global Economic Downturn - a more recent development, but caused by years of reckless business management by the worlds biggest banks.
Climate Change - Arguably the biggest problem of all, though so far has seen the least progress.
Governments have spent Billions fighting Terrorism this decade, and Trillions saving failing banks in the recession. But when faced with the problem of Climate Change, there has been very little action.
Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2007 saw the peak of climate change awareness. But since then only doubt seems to have been cast over the science behind climate change. Few if any climatologists deny claims that climate change is man made. But there is a rise of climate change “Deniers” dismissing global warming as a conspiracy. Their argument often based around claims in Gore’s film that were proved to be inaccurate or false.
The problem is that although most scientists agree that climate change is happening, and that it is caused by Carbon dioxide emitted by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, there is no general consensus on the exact effect that will have on the earth. There are so many things to take into account, a lot of climate scientists are only studying part of the equation. There is now so many studies published, some even contradicting each other, that it is hard to filter out which are accurate and credible. This indecision by the scientific community has lead to inaction by world leaders and businesses. Until someone can come up with comprehensive proof of the forthcoming effects of man made climate change, we are doomed to witness those effects first hand. Which leads us to the real BIG question.
For decades, climatologists have been engaged in a quest for what some consider to be the field’s holy grail: an accurate estimate of climate sensitivity. This number captures how temperature responds to greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere — a vital quantity when emissions are increasing fast. If scientists could nail the number for sensitivity exactly, it would give a much clearer view of how global warming will change the face of our planet. It would also have big implications for policymakers, who want a concrete figure for how much CO2 and other warming gases we can pump into the atmosphere while keeping the Earth’s rising fever below dangerous levels.
2009 will be a big year for climate change. In December, The United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen, with the worlds 15 biggest nations attending. But meetings of this nature result in lots of talk, and very little action. Until we can finally agree on what is happening, and what is going to happen, the appropriate action will not be taken.
The UN’s Head of Environment Achim Steiner recently spoke out about world governments willingness to throw Billions of Dollars at failing businesses, claiming ““We waited perhaps a decade to get $5bn ($3.3bn) to accelerate development of renewable energy. We now see $20bn (£13.3bn) paid [to] a car company simply to keep it alive.” He stressed that if extra investment was not found to tackle climate change, the bail outs would be “a terrible waste of money”.
Even Oxfam have changed their focus to aiding those who are suffering the effects of climate change. They claim that in the last 20 years, there has been an increase in extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, as well as noticeable sea level rise and seasonal unpredictability. The result of these climate changes is failed harvests, disappearing islands, destroyed homes, water scarcity, and deepening health crises. And that means millions upon millions of people are struggling to get food, water, and shelter.
Only time will tell weather we will act fast enough to prevent climate change. Most governments now acknowledge that it is too late to prevent a small increase in global temperatures, and are aiming to curb emissions at a “safe” increase of global warming. In reality, its just more inaction.