Climate change is happening all over the world. Unfortunately, science doesn’t quite care if you believe in it or not. After a very sobering UN report that came out on Oct. 8, we learned that we will face an unprecedented climate change catastrophe within 12 years unless we act now. Yes, now! The urgency to act on this matter is dire and please allow me to explain why.
The world is currently 1 degree warmer than preindustrial levels. Subsequent to Typhoon Yutu and the devastation it brought to Saipan and Tinian, it’s worth noting that every fraction of additional warming could worsen the impact of future storms to come. If the earth were to warm by half of a degree, this would wreak havoc on the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide if we reach the 6-degree mark of global warming life on this planet, our home ceases to exist.
More specifically, island nations who give off the least amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases but are the most vulnerable in the world to its negative impacts. This increase in temperature heightens the risks of drought, floods, extreme weather events, food scarcity and poverty. “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilizes people and dents the mood of complacency.”
Although progress has been made in the implementation of renewable energy, the assurance from political leaders worldwide has not been strong enough to stop irreversible damage. At the current level of commitments, our planet is on course for a disastrous 3 degrees Celsius of warming. Climate change is occurring more rapidly than anticipated and even at the current level of 1-degree Celsius warming, it is painful. We have witnessed two storms devastate our sister islands just in these last few months. We must respect the urgency of now and act on this issue accordingly.
Unfortunately, here is what is in store for Guam if we do nothing to stop climate change: temperature variability, storm surges, sea level rise, mass flooding, changes in rainfall pattern and coral bleaching will worsen and become more damaging. These events threaten our ecosystem thus affecting the food and water supply, livelihoods and overall wellbeing of island communities.
As a climate activist, it is frustrating to watch world leaders, politicians and even regular people ignore or deny this pressing issue. The fate of our planet, our island, our homes is at stake. While 2C may not seem like that big of a jump, let’s examine the viscosity of water. At 33 degrees Fahrenheit, water is a liquid. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water becomes a solid, ice. One degree does make a difference. Just as one person can make a difference.
While the ominous warnings on climate change can feel overwhelming, don’t let this stop you from making a change. Oftentimes, people will say to me “I’m just one person, what can I even do?” And while this may be true, the unfortunate fact is that 10 million other people are sitting around asking themselves the same question. You are not just one person, you are somebody. Together we can fight climate injustice for the sake of our island, our families, our future.
Remember it’s just not for us; this is for our children, their children and our future generations. I want my distant generations to be able to look back and say this was the generation that made it happen that decided to change the way we live on this planet, the generation that saved this world. I believe Pope Francis said it best we are the caregivers and caretakers of this world. God has left us in charge to protect this planet, we must act now.
Michelle Voacolo is a climate change specialist at Micronesia Climate Change Alliance, and energy solutions advisor for Micronesia Renewable Energy. Send feedback firstname.lastname@example.org