The world is ending.
Some may say the world has always been ending, ever since it began. They may, from a technical standpoint, be right. But never before has humanity loitered in an apocalypse of its own making and ignored the signs of doomsday. In this case, of course, doomsday is a misleading term. There will be no hour of death, when fire rains from the sky and brimstone fills the oceans. We won’t die in a flash as a meteor pummels the earth, or even over a period of weeks as nuclear warheads careen about the globe and demolish civilization. It won’t even be the slow burning zombie apocalypse of horror, where humanity is crushed in the vise of an undead horde over the course of years- though that is the closest parallel in our popular conscious.
No, our apocalypse is a slow one. It has already started. It is already killing people, in Africa, and Asia, and Florida. It recently led to the death of over a dozen people in the Carolinas. It might even kill you. The apocalypse we are facing? Climate change.
Some people still don’t even believe it’s happening. The ignorance it takes to ignore the statistics, and pretend that almost every species on the planet isn’t slowly being killed by our own negligence and stupendously idiotic overuse of coal and plastic and oil, is unprecedented, and honestly terrifying.
I have strong political opinions about a lot of things, and I am outspoken about them. That’s just my personality. On almost every other issue, I can accept the other side. I don’t agree with it, and I will passionately argue with anyone who cares to listen, but I can see the semblance of a reason on both sides of nearly all issues. I even enjoying arguing opinions I don’t agree with on most issues.
Not climate change. To deny climate change is to deny science and facts and your own senses. Climate change deniers are not akin to the frog slowly boiling to death in the overused proverb, though the temperature connotations are quite apt. They are more like a man who denies the existence of elephants because there are places in the world where elephants don’t exist, and in the ancient past, there was a point in time where they did not exist. You could take him to a zoo and show him an elephant, but he could cover his eyes and say the government had created it to control you. Of course, soon enough there will be no more elephants. Climate change is having its way with them too.
Scientist after scientist, report after report, has shown that climate change is wreaking havoc on all elements of the planet, from plant life, to the atmosphere, to storm cycles. And each report is worse than the last. We underestimated the rate at which we were burning carbon, we didn’t anticipate the melting of permafrost- so named because it never melts- we won’t reach the goals set by the Paris Climate Accords. Climate Accords that the president of the United States himself wants to abandon. Some effects have been unforeseen. Surprise, climate change isn’t just warming. In fact, that’s the least of it. It also creates bigger hurricanes and floods and more diabetes, and I could go on. Some we have seen coming. Entire countries are sinking like Atlantis, famine is absorbing the world, half of the United States is suffering from droughts.
I cannot emphasize this enough. We have no reference for what is coming. This will be the greatest humanitarian crises that has ever struck the planet, and it’s not even close. Slavery? The Holocaust? They pale in comparison to what climate change threatens. If we don’t act now to stop this, it will end human life. Not as we know it. Just in general. Everyone will die. It might take a few centuries, and odds are you won’t live to see it, but over time, humanity will slowly go extinct. You will see part of it, though. You already are seeing part of it. It will just get worse and worse and worse until the end. Until there is no one left.
Unless we do something to stop it.
But, in the face of punitive inaction by our leaders, what can we do? What power do we have? A lot, actually. We can eat less meat, drive fewer miles, use less plastic, and throw away less clothing. We can conserve water, fix leaks in our houses, and unplug electronics that are not in use. Most importantly, we can vote for candidates that support legislation to limit and stop climate change.
The tone of this article is harsh. I realize that. It is intentional, and I will not apologize for it. If you wish to speak with me about it, you can talk to me in person or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to send a letter to email@example.com, they will publish it in the next issue (so long as you meet the requirements) and I will personally respond to you as soon as I get the chance. I welcome conversation about climate change, because I am a believer that discussion is the enemy of ignorance, and if we talk about climate change, we will all come to understand how important stopping it is.
Climate change is the greatest foe humankind has faced yet. We’ve weathered storms in the past. I believe we can do it again. We just have to act.