It’s a little like being a child with that monster under the bed.
It’s there, always in the corner of your mind, never allowing you to completely relax, to feel safe.
You can curl up tightly in the covers, immerse yourself in a book, think of other things, but it’s still there.
It’s only when you buck up your courage, roll onto your stomach and slowly, shakily, lower your head over the edge of the bed, and take an upside-down look below the mattress that things change.
The fear shifts. The monster in your mind relinquishes some of its power.
Climate change is a bit like that.
Forest fires rage, rivers flood, temperatures spike and fall to extremes, tornadoes and hurricanes blow, but we skip down the garden path, our shiny new pipeline under our arm, the gold coins from LNG jingling in our pockets. Still, we can’t quite relax and enjoy.
The thought of our children or grandchildren suffering from the ravages of climate change are unbearable to think about, too frightening to consider. So we don’t.
On Monday, however, the scientists of the world demanded we take a look. A hard look.
If we refuse to look we remain immobilized, powerless, distracted.
These scientists are not an extreme group out to frighten people.
Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries, using more than 6,000 scientific references, prepared The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. They are the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group invited to make a report for the United Nations on climate change and what can be done.
If we humans continue on the path we are on, heedlessly releasing greenhouse gases into the air, the planet will reach 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures by 2030 – just 12 years from now.
“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1 degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of one IPCC working group.
The report provides policy makers with the information they need to tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs.
“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” states Debra Roberts, another working group co-chair.
So whether we’re environmentalists or not, whether we need the funds provided by the oil industry or not, this report is for all of us.
We all depend on the earth and, more importantly, so do the generations who follow.
If we’re not going to make substantial and decisive changes now, when are we?
Martha Wickett is a reporter with the Salmon Arm Observer.