Muting Questions #7 – Why is Global Warming actually bad?

If you’re reading this you should already know what global warming is and why it’s a problem and you should be aware of the meaning of terms like greenhouse effect, climate change, ocean acidification, glaciers melting, raising see levels and many more.. If you don’t, please leave this page now and go yourself informed on the topic and on what you can do to stop it.

I don’t want to explain you what global warming is and why it is an immediate threat but I want to ask you: why is it actually bad?? So before we start, this is not a debate in which you are free to think that climate change is not bad. This is just not an option. It is bad.

With a quick search on the web you can easily find good information on all the literature, data and predictions on the topic so I won’t bother with that; but what surprised me the most is how hard is to find a satisfying answer to the title of this post.

Let me explain myself: on most webpages I visited, people explain very well what are the implications of climate change and what’s the impact of human activities on the process, but what they lack, surprisingly, is why are those implications bad, or why should we care about them.

I know I’m getting ridiculous but the actual answer, in my opinion, is that people don’t write anything on that, because we lack real reasons.

In my opinion, two are the reasons on why most people struggle to grasp the gravity of the process.

  1. The time scale of the change is too long. The length of human lives, and even of few generations, is hardly nothing compared to geological, environmental or evolutionary time scales. That makes it only harder to appreciate what we are talking about. One thing, though, is that we are getting so close to the brink of no-return that now we can appreciate the effects even in our lifetime. Although this helps us understand what we are going through, it is definitely not a good sign for the process itself: it means that we don’t have many years ahead of us to make a change.
  2. Most implications are ecological, and most people can’t appreciate them without some formal training. On this I’ll write another post.

 

Let’s check some consequences, future or ongoing, of global warming. Acidification of the oceans, biodiversity loss, raising water see levels and more unpredictable weather. Why should we really care about all these?? Of course, I’m a biologist and as far as I’m concerned the preservation of our Earth like it was before we got here would be a great enough reasons to act. But what about all the people that barely understand the implications and that couldn’t care less on how many species we are destroying per day, what should they care?

Everybody could find their own reasons to care: curiosity, beauty of Earth, will that their children could see what they have seen or just empathy. I greatly encourage to find motivation and personal connection to this world, because as far as we know this may be the only one we have, and we should fix it since we have time for it.

If the love for the life on our planet is not enough, the sad truth is that there is only another reason for which people would make an actual change: money. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a biological or universal reason for which you should not destroy the environment if not talking about money. Because, eventually, that’s the only thing people care about. Simply because in nature there’s no thing as good or bad, right or wrong I cannot say that extinguishing every other living form is wrong without appealing to the human sense of empathy/justice. Unluckily, we are also the first species that could make such huge impact on its own planet in such a short amount of time, that we simply don’t know what others did, or it should be done. Let’s hope that the fact that we are also the only ones that developed higher levels of consciousness is a mere coincidence.

The economical consequences of climate change can be catastrophic. These consequences, like many other, are very hard to predict but everybody will say that they are not promising. Climate change will affect nearly every field, from agriculture to commercial routes, from damage to infrastructure to natural loss due to ecosystem instability.

But what if you are so selfish that don’t care about the money and you don’t like this planet, why should you care?? Well, my friend, at this point you should care because without any action to prevent it, we will be equally extinct. I am not saying that live will stop existing but definitely humans are not the organisms that best can deal with crazy environmental shifts. So whenever our technological progress will stop protecting us, we will just die and so be it. At least you will have a reason to care.

While you find your personal reasons and while you think what you can do to help the planet, let me tell you another story…

P.S. I might have used global warming and climate change as synonyms in this post for simplicity although I understand that the former is actually a symptom of the latter. Forgive me.

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