By Faraz Rizvi
On August 9, the IPCC released a watershed report that details a grim vision of the future of humanity. This landmark report showcases deeply concerning news: From deep heat, raging wildfires, to the loss of entire countries from sea level rising. The climate is warmer than it has been in 125,000 years. According to Professor Ed Hawkins, author of the report, “It is a statement of fact, we cannot be any more certain; it is unequivocal and indisputable that humans are warming the planet.”
Unsurprisingly, the report correlates the link between burning fossil fuels and climate warming showing that from the 19th century to now the climate has warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius, about 2 degrees Fahrenheit and that without bold action on sources of energy, humans will blow through climate tipping points and has already irreversibly changed climate heat.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope: While climate change is a reality for the future, the scope of damage can be diminished and mitigated by reducing emissions and changing to renewable sources of energy.
However, many of us on the frontlines of the climate crisis are aware of the caveat: Political leaders are unwilling to jeopardize the profits of big business to protect the future of humanity. The only way forward is to force our political leaders to prioritize bold and decisive leadership regardless of the impacts on big business.
In fact, the drastic nature of the report highlights that we need more than just forward-thinking climate policy. For future generations to have any hope of a habitable planet, we need an overhaul of our political priorities with climate resiliency, not profit, as the primary center point. The extractive mode of production that has characterized neoliberal capitalism cannot continue unfettered to destroy the planet in its wake.
Communities in the Inland Empire have been bearing the brunt of climate-related impacts, from wildfires to extreme heat and air pollution are already aware of the vagrancies of the climate crisis and its direct impacts. Communities here are also on the frontlines of what change looks like: Mass mobilization and grassroots movement to change the direction of governance and hold leaders accountable.
The science is clear, but the future is not. There is still time to make urgent change and prioritize building climate-resilient communities. That process starts with curbing emissions drastically and eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy sources.
*Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of IECN.