We cannot say ‘we never knew’ when melting glaciers and polar ice caps engulf us in our own folly. Even lemmings respond to threats with courage and vigor, so why are humans in a comfort-induced sleep in air-conditioned or centrally heated houses … for this is directed at the rich industrialized world — the rural Africans, Indians or Chinese or other similar people in Mexico or Latin America or any other part of the world have not been responsible for our global warming.
The blazing wildfires in Canada this year are too many to fight so they are being left to burn out. The northeastern US and Canada further up are covered in a haze of smoke, the air difficult to breathe and warnings announced for the infirm, the elderly or persons with asthma.
A portent of the future no doubt when Floridians with their cherished coastal properties would rue the day they decided to live there.
Looking beyond into the more distant future of our grand and great-grandchildren, the scenarios are far from pleasant to imagine. The worst have a sea level rise of 20 to 30 feet making Denver a west coast port in an incredibly shrunk United States. Florida and much of the eastern seaboard disappears and something similar happens to coastal communities throughout the world. The trouble is it is a very slow creeping process like the proverbial frog put in warm water that is heated very slowly.
If human response has been less than overwhelming, there are positive signs even if the causes may not be only a response to global warming.
Thus the sales of electric cars and hybrids are soaring according to the International Energy Agency. In 2021, they doubled to a record 6.6 million, and in the first quarter of 2022, two million had been sold worldwide. The final 2022 tally was in excess of 10 million and this year (2023) they are expected to surpass 14 million. As a percent of the total car market they have jumped from 4 percent in 2020 to a projected 18 percent in 2023. It is a historic transformation of the automobile industry.
To continue with human habits, beef consumption is down in the particularly significant high income countries. As the single most GHG producing food, it is welcome news. For it is also one habit most likely to send you to a cardiologist — in the worst case scenario, for a coronary bypass, — or heaven forbid, the funeral parlor. By the way, a Harvard study estimated that each additional 4 ounce serving of red meat in your regular diet decreased life expectancy by 13 percent. The population sample consisted of 38,000 men and 84,000 women over a period of 28 years. It gets worse if you drink and smoke, which probably also increases global warming.
What we sow, we reap as the saying goes. It also helps us then to try and do our best for succeeding generations — plus it is their right and our duty.