Cookie Consent

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.


Lori Cohen Criticos

October 7, 2022

How serious is the climate crisis?

The Earth is getting hotter. Even the biggest climate change pessimists (more on that later) agree. The reasons are as follows. During the Industrial Revolution, people increasingly burned coal and other fossil fuels to power factories, smelting furnaces, and steam engines. This released more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributed to the gradual warming of the planet.

A wealth of evidence points to Earth getting warmer, such as temperature measurements at weather stations and on ships dating back to the mid-1800s. In recent years, scientists have also tracked surface temperatures with satellites and looked for signs of climate change in geological records. These data tell us the same thing: Our planet is heating up.

But is climate change real?

Much of the debate about climate change revolves around theories that global warming is a natural phenomenon. Doubts are also fed with references to disagreement among scientists about the reality of climate change. There is actually little disagreement among scientists that climate change is occurring and that humans are the primary cause. Numerous studies conducted over many years have shown that between 90% and 100% of published climate scientists agree on these points. The most important thing to remember is that these are the views of specialised climate scientists. The conflicting information you'll find in a standard Google search comes from people without expertise in this area. 

The effects of climate change

Regardless of the causes of climate change, we see the effects everywhere. Ice sheets and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, sea levels are rising, and Arctic sea ice is receding. Models have predicted these changes for some time, but we are just beginning to see the effects in our own lifetime.

According to the United Nations, these are some of the serious consequences we face from the climate crisis.

The increase in refugees due to climate change

As a result of rising sea levels due to melting glaciers and ice sheets, many coastal cities are at risk of being completely flooded in our lifetime. This would displace millions of people living in these areas. If nothing is done, entire neighbourhoods of New York, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Osaka, Rio de Janeiro and other cities could be underwater in the next few decades.

Food and water security at risk

As the world warms, everyone's food and water security are at risk. Soil degradation caused by climate change reduces the planet's ability to store carbon, affecting crops and water availability. The poor and vulnerable are disproportionately affected by these conditions. Global warming is likely to widen the gap between the economic performance of rich and developing countries.

Natural disasters will disrupt life

Natural disasters have always been a part of our world, but as the planet continues to warm, they are becoming more frequent and intense. All continents are affected by extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, droughts, typhoons and hurricanes, causing billions of dollars in damage every year. 26 million people have been driven into poverty by these climate-related disasters.

Global peace is no guarantee

Climate change is a major global security issue. Increased competition for resources due to the effects of climate change may lead to socio-economic tensions and eventually mass displacement. According to the World Bank, over 140 million people could be forced to migrate within their region by 2050 if no action is taken to address climate change.

Is there a way forward in the climate crisis?

As we continue to grapple with the reality of climate change, it is important to remember that it is not too late to make a difference. We can do many things as individuals and as a society to reduce our emissions and slow the effects of climate change. 

One of the most important things we can do is use renewable energy sources whenever possible. Solar, wind and hydroelectric power are all clean energy sources that can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Electric cars are another great way to reduce emissions, and they are becoming more popular daily. We also need to be mindful of how we use land and resources. 

Sustainable practices like organic farming can help reduce our environmental impact while providing us with the food and products we need. We can make a big difference in the fight against climate change by making small changes in our everyday lives.

The bigger picture

According to experts at the EU Climate Bank, there is reason for cautious optimism. The 2020s offer humanity a crucial opportunity to act decisively against climate change and avoid the worst consequences of global warming, they say. According to scientists, emissions must be cut in half over the next decade if we limit warming to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. This is a daunting but essential challenge for humanity. Can we meet it?

Several significant developments in the world of climate finance and policy over the past year suggest we can. 

  • First, the number of net-zero pledges from governments and companies worldwide has skyrocketed. 
  • Second, sustainable finance has become a significant focus for policymakers and investors. 
  • Finally, climate change adaptation is increasingly recognised as a critical component of international climate finance. 

These trends will likely shape the future of climate finance and policy in the coming years.

Climate finance and policy - will it work?

The first year of the critical decade is now behind us. Despite some progress in renewable technology deployment and net-zero pledges, global emissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels. It is clear that we have not yet bent the global climate change curve. However, there are some green shoots in the climate crisis.

The growing number of companies and countries committing to net-zero emissions trading clearly shows that the global economy is moving away from fossil fuels. While it may be debatable how quickly demand for these resources will decline, it is clear that their use will eventually come to an end. This shift is an opportunity for those willing to invest in cleaner energy sources.

Share This Post!

Other Articles

Going zero-waste helped me realise I had a junk food addiction

Read More

The Future of Sustainability in South Africa: Insights from the 1.5 Degree Conference in Cape Town

Read More

Meet the owners of The Refillery – Joburg’s plastic-free, planet-friendly grocery store

Read More

What's your carbon footprint?

Find out how sustainable your lifestyle is and get personalised tips to be even better.

Take Our quiz

Button Arrow