“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who
did nothing because he could do only a little”
Over the last few decades, the issue of climate change has captured the imagination of many, either because of fears of an “apocalyptic crisis”, economic-political turmoil or simply a very healthy attachment to the only home we have: Earth.
It is no surprise then that so much has been written on the topic. Research, studies, organizations, young people, scientists, businesses, ethnic groups, universities… and endless stream of associations and reports have emerged, trying to shed light on the most likely future scenarios for the planet.
There is an overwhelming likelihood that climate change has been triggered by our terribly short-sighted view of a world of “infinite” resources. In fact, a 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found a 95% certainty that climate change is man-made. This means the anthropogenic era has had an unprecedented impact on global climate.
Nonetheless, humans continue to behave as if natural diversity and planetary sustainability are here to stay. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The planet is gradually disintegrating. Its vulnerabilities and weaknesses as a living organism are becoming more apparent. It is such a very delicate being for the challenges that it faces. And if the planet goes, we go too. Pollution, deforestation and the use of chemical weapons not only destroy our habitats, they destroy our lives too.
The challenge that we face is immense. Indeed, global collapse is a far from outlandish possibility. Such a scenario would mean critical difficulties for the world’s major cities, but also those small corners of the planet that have managed to retain a lifestyle harmonious with the environment. To minimize such effects we must take “glocal” action; both global and local.
Both sets of communities (urban and rural) have generated numerous projects and programs that seek to adapt to climate change. People are now more conscious of the issue. For some years (and with increasing frequency and magnitude), the impacts had by this tremendous problem have become more evident and noticeable.
According to recent surveys, people living in the world’s largest cities (including the United States) recognize climate change as a kind of “Achilles heel” for the planet and society, and are ready to do something about it. More people believe in climate change than ever, while the ranks of the climate skeptics have dwindled to almost zero.
The main concern is mitigating the problem and adapting to the new future. We have recently seen how the empowerment of communities is essential for a new environmental culture and lifestyle to emerge. The process is a slow one, certainly, but it does offer real benefits in an increasingly troubled world.
Readying ourselves for natural disasters is one of the first things that communities can do, with the support of either the public or private sector. There is no doubt that this would help to reduce poverty and inequality in the world.
Adaptation requires a major commitment from a wide array of agents, all working together and a number of sectors. Incorporating adaptation to climate change within initiatives that seek to tackle poverty makes for more sustainable benefits, particularly in areas such as agriculture, water and health.
There are currently global programs that seek to support national, regional and local policies that drive adaptation to climate change, including the protection of ecosystems, hybrid resources, coastal resources, agriculture and forestry. The aim is to improve living conditions for communities and optimize their ability to adapt to the present and the future.
However, there is still much work to be done. Adapting to climate change poses a vast array of challenges to communities, including: scientific uncertainty, capacity to take action and financing.
There can be no excuse. The planet has no need for excuses. We, as a “sentient society”, must take action before it’s too late. I have said it many times before, but I never tire of repeating it: our generation is the only one that can change the planet’s future; it is the only generation capable of making positive change and adapting to the consequences of this “glocal” challenge.
Maria Eugenia Rinaudo
BA Environmental Studies and Specialist in Environmental Management