Following the catastrophic IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released in March, UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) just published State of the Global Climate 2022 report that corroborates such a grim picture with specific stats. For one, the amount of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere reached the highest level since human civilization. Far from decreasing or even remaining stable, emissions actually increased in 2022.
Global ocean temperatures and acidity levels also hit record highs in 2022. Nearly 58% of ocean surfaces underwent a marine heatwave. This means disaster for marine life, for whom even a small degree of change can spell doom. Sea levels are the highest ever recorded as well, threatening the existence of low-lying and island nations. South Pacific nation Tuvalu, realizing the absence of political will, has said that it will become the first digitized nation in the metaverse. It plans to build a virtual replica of itself so that the people of Tuvalu can carry on its culture, history, and statehood even when the land has disappeared. The entire country is predicted to be underwater before the end of the century.
Other human casualties and costs abound from the year 2022. Around 15,000 people died because of heatwaves in “temperate” Europe. In East Africa, unprecedented drought displaced more than 1.7 million people and killed hundreds of thousands. Pakistan’s flooding put 1/3 of its land underwater and displaced 8 million people.
A day before WMO’s report was released, UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed Major Economies Forum. “Today’s policies would make our world 2.8°C hotter by the end of the century,” said Guterres. On the world’s largest economies’ unwillingness to halt fossil fuel expansion, he warned, “This is a death sentence.” This appeared to be a partially veiled response to President Biden’s rapid approval of oil projects, including the recent and controversial Willow Project on the biggest piece of federal land in the U.S.
Continuing to green-screen his policies, Biden urged the other nations at the Forum to cut emissions. “We’re at a moment of great peril but also great possibilities, serious possibilities. With the right commitment and follow-through from every nation … on this call, the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees can stay within reach,” he said.
The countries in attendance were: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K., and Vietnam. These 21 countries plus the EU together produce 80% of the world’s emissions.
In the past decade of Peaceful Dumpling’s reporting on climate news, we’ve never seen any improvements or hopeful signs—only ever worsening effects and warnings. It makes it difficult to continue to call for individual action or communal movement. Very few of us have the influence of a political or economic leader.
But we do know that if we don’t do our part, the situation would be that much worse. Our individualist paradigm tells us we can shape our own lives in any way imaginable, but that we can do little to impact the world at large. Yet, if we have so much control over our destinies, shouldn’t that matter to the world?
As Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” The future depends on us believing in our agency and playing our part in this struggle. One day our descendants may remember us as the generation who saved the planet from destruction—or no one may remember us at all.
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Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash