Why On Earth Focus on Climate Change?

By: Nora Germain

Society is just beginning to grasp the dangers of not stopping and reversing climate change as quickly as possible, and this is good news, because every second that we delay will cause further chaos in the future. Despite this scientific truth, there are many people who don’t seem to understand that of all the worthy causes there are in the world, climate is arguably the most important. I’d like to explain why here. 

Firstly, the title of this piece suggests the most obvious reason. We are living on planet Earth. Nobody living here chose it as their home, but it is a miracle to live here. Make no mistake. Earth has breathable air, water, and just the right range of temperatures for life. We must solve climate change because we exist on a living planet. 

We don’t live in a store, or inside an algorithm, on a website or in an infinite virtual reality landscape. We live on a real planet in the dark blackness of space and thus, if we want to keep living here, we need to take care of our Earth. This should be obvious, but sometimes human beings can take things for granted. 

Let’s go further. When looking closely at a great many issues that we face as a society, it becomes very clear that many of these issues are not only connected to climate change, but they are sometimes fueled by climate change. I’ll give some examples. If you’re passionate about human health, you might realize that human health is negatively impacted by fossil fuels, wildfire smoke, extreme heat, droughts, and of course, starvation. Starvation is made worse when crops fail, and crops fail oftentimes (but not always) because of climate chaos. Click here for a 2016 report on how climate change impacts human health by the EPA.

 Let’s take another example; world peace. Of course a stable climate cannot alone guarantee world peace, and wars have been waged for thousands of years. However — a strong case can be made that when Earth suffers from climate chaos, wars become more frequent and peace becomes much more difficult to secure. Climate chaos can cause huge and sudden economic turbulence, mass migrations, and fights about land and water use and resource management. If you’re passionate about world peace, a stable climate is one of the pillars needed to achieve that goal. The civil war in Syria and the recent migrations from South America are both good examples of this, but there are many more. 

A third example would be the strength of financial markets, potentially including cryptocurrency markets. I’m sure many people would like to believe that banks, portfolios and wealth in general cannot be affected by climate, but indeed they can. A bank’s investments could be tied to projects that are at risk of failure due to climate chaos, or are dependent upon housing markets, agriculture, tourism, insurance (especially fire or flood insurance) and other sectors that can be heavily impacted by a changing climate.

This also does not include the topic of climate debt. Major financial institutions are now acknowledging these risks, and it’s been discussed recently by Forbes, The New York Times, and CNBC, among other outlets. To try to separate the fate of the global economy from the fate of the climate is both asinine and extremely expensive, and NOAA proves it. 

Cryptocurrency is a powerful aspect of blockchain technology, but it cannot be allowed to further destroy the planet through increased emissions or sheer heat. It must be organized and powered in a way that helps humanity to thrive. We all know this, but how can cryptocurrency, blockchain, or the internet itself be impacted by climate change?

National Geographic published a terrifying piece which details the ways in which sea level rise could sink large portions of the internet and other critical infrastructure. This is infrastructure that has not been built to be waterproof, and cannot be easily moved from low-lying areas most prone to flooding. Even with the added benefits of decentralization, good luck with your transactions if that happens. Who is going to secure and move this stuff? Where? When? How? Who will pay for it? Who decides where it goes? Who monitors in the long term?

So you see, the more you look at society’s problems, the more you see that climate is involved in almost all of them, whether you’re talking about inequality, poverty, environmental racism, pandemics, food, or other significant challenges. This is why it’s so important to focus on climate change. It is the issue of our time because it connects and underlies so many other issues, not to mention causes dangerous and costly crises of its own, many of which we are not prepared for. Furthermore, without a stable climate, our prospects for solving other problems become dismal, and there is huge spiritual, financial, humanitarian and environmental opportunity to be seized if we do solve this.

Human beings should not need to be selfishly motivated by personal ambition and comfort to care about solving the climate crisis. Nature should be allowed to exist in health, whether or not we reap the benefits of that health (hint: we do). Furthermore, the climate issue itself is closely linked to but not entirely the same as the extinction crisis which we also must solve. This can only be described as a cosmic-level genocide if you ask me.

Whatever we are motivated by, whether it’s sheer moral conviction, cosmic awareness, selfish but very real concerns about financial solvency and longevity, or just the spiritual connection that we all share with nature — we must prioritize this challenge if for no other reason than it is incredibly urgent. See this report from USA Today and a basic explanation of what an emissions budget is if you don’t believe me. If you’re one of the people who think you’ll somehow be untouched by the incoming climate migrations, fires, sea level rise, erosion, drought, floods or heat waves, that’s fine and in some rare cases, you may be right. But try to think of other ways that you may be impacted that you didn’t expect, and after that, think next of how you can help others who will really need it (if you’re so sure you won’t).

The important thing to remember is that all of these problems are human-made, and therefore, with the right perspectives and tools, humans can solve them. There is a lot still worth fighting for on planet Earth, and a lot still worth saving. The movement for climate is not a fringe, hippie fueled, tree-hugging cause. It is the fight for human civilization. Very few people could see the 2008 financial crisis coming, but millions of people know the climate crisis is coming, and for many people, it’s already here. In fact, we knew about the climate crisis over 40 years ago, and it will be much worse than 2008, so we have no excuse not to be prepared and to do everything we can to stop it. 

I hope that you’ll investigate the links in this piece, do your own research, and learn more not only about how climate may impact your future reality, but equally important, why our indescribably rare planet has intrinsic value of its own and therefore demands robust advocacy and protection.

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