The COP-20 is getting closer and world political and economic leaders will decide the course of the planet in this important global conference. I see 2014 as being a year that has marked an important milestone in the history of mankind: the success of the World Climate March, the recent climate agreement (still with some issues to be ironed out) between China and the United States, the publication of a new IPCC report that focuses on a low carbon development and economy, among other things.
Our life and survival depend on the conditions on Earth. Pollution, deforestation, rising temperatures, loss of biodiversity and fossil-dependency are marking a “point of no return” at a planetary level, i.e. even if we wanted, we could not go back and correct our mistakes because the planet would have lost its resilience. To put it more simply, it would take thousands of years to repair the damage we have caused.
The way we look, act and feel the environment has been wrong, or at least we have externalized it in a very incompetent way. The planet has had to modify its local and global conditions to begin a very rapid transition of socio-environmental changes. Can mankind endure these abrupt changes? Can we easily escape from these?
Climate change has been the center of political, economic and environmental talks in recent years. It represents one of the greatest challenges facing mankind, as it undermines all socio-productive sectors that we know. Briefly summarizing the planet’s climate historiography, we find that there have been seven cycles of glacial advances and retreats in the last 650,000 years and the last ice age ended about 7,000 years ago. That date marks the beginning of the modern era with regard to climate. Most of these changes are attributed to small variations in the Earth’s orbit. The current warming trend is vitally important, since it has been induced by man at an unprecedented rate in the past 1,300 years. According to the IPCC, anthropogenic activities are 95% responsible for emissions of greenhouse gases causing climate change.
This phenomenon corresponds to a multiple social pathology and because of this, climate change should be seen as a cross-cutting theme, including communities in decision making for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating climate changes through local strategies such as education, health, production, trade, etc.
I consider it vital for climate policy to open the way for areas of local knowledge, taking human development into account to execute actions on vulnerability to climate change. We can find examples of this in many places in Colombia and other Latin American countries, especially in relation to agricultural issues and risk management.
The World Bank has been warning for some time that no country can address the interconnected challenges posed by climate change alone, which include political and economic decisions, technology deployment and large-scale global consequences. I would dare to add that no politician in the world can face these risks without listening to communities. People are the main window that nations have to put mechanisms in place to help mitigate the damage caused by climate change.
It is worth noting that if we avoided these actions, climate change would involve a certain doom for mankind and for everything we know on Earth. Our days are numbered unless we act quickly. We cannot let climate change be our doom. Let’s fight and act.
The planet is at risk and we are at risk with it…
Maria Eugenia Rinaudo
B.S., Environmental Studies and a Specialist in Environmental Management