The state of climate change in 2018

Back in 2000, many had not yet made their mind up about climate change. Whether a question of how real it was, how serious it was, or whether it was something we needed to worry about in the present day, there were doubters.

Fast forward to 2018, and there has been a marked shift in its perception. As John Roach of the National Geographic wrote back in 2010, “…global climate change was considered a problem for the distant future. But it seems that future has come sooner than predicted”.

With global research and evidence mounting, an increase coverage of climate change agenda in politics, plus various natural disasters and atypical weather patterns, the average person today is more aware of the changing climate and environment.

There has also been a rise in the number of climate change activists and influencers, who have a growing reach in today’s digital world; people like Lewis Pugh and Al Gore who are consistently bringing the issue of climate change to the forefront. Last year, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk left President Trump’s advisory council over his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

With nations increasingly pledging to act on climate change, the US now largely stands alone in its withdrawal. From big businesses to Indian moguls, climate change is finally starting to hit home.

That said, there is room for much more to be done. Pledges are one thing, but following through on these targets and achieving them is another entirely. There is also the issue of taking action on an individual level. Whilst it makes sense that those who have been directly affected by natural disasters become more aware of climate change, research linking the two is far from conclusive.

Clearly, climate change education needs to happen outside of extreme events and natural disasters, and discussion needs to happen on an ongoing basis. Opinions on climate change tend to be political and polarised, and using natural disasters to talk about climate change may not be the most conducive way to highlight the issue to those who remain suspicious.

We have certainly moved forward with climate change, and — crucially — it is being taken more seriously, with more conversations happening at the highest level. As with the previous decade, this next decade will be vital in holding nations and businesses to account on their promises, and identifying whether the measurable targets set have been met or not.

Equally, with more of us realising that the issue is one that needs to be addressed right now, perhaps more will be pressed to take individual action in the name of looking after our planet in our lifetime. Rather than burying our heads in the sand and letting our children and grandchildren deal with the consequences, rather than let more forests disappear, more ice has melt and more ecosystems crumble, we can make an impact today.

Note: NASA have a dedicated resource on climate change, outlining evidence, causes and effects as well as identifying potential solutions. The link is here.

Jasraj S Hothi

Friday 9th February, 2018