What are you prepared to do to save humanity?

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By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership

In case you have not noticed, we are facing a global climate change crisis which could lead to severe impact and suffering for humanity.

I appreciate Bill Gates comments that humanity is doing better than ever as he echoes Steve Pinker, one of his favorite authors and his book Enlightenment Now, but such comment from Bill seems to ignore the global climate change crisis

According to the UN and many scientists, we only have a few years to change our ways to avoid runaway climate change which would result in severe negative impacts and suffering for many humans.

While we may not yet have reached the “point of no return'', when no amount of cutbacks on greenhouse gas emissions will save us from potentially catastrophic global warming, climate scientists warn we may be getting awfully close.

According to the Scientific American, since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution a century ago, the average global temperature has risen some 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Most climatologists agree that, while the warming to date is already causing environmental problems, another 0.4 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature, could set in motion unprecedented changes in global climate and a significant increase in the severity of natural disasters, and as such could represent the dreaded point of no return.

Environmental leaders point out that this doesn’t give us much time to turn the tide. Greenpeace, a leading environmental advocacy group, says we have until around 2020 to significantly cut back on greenhouse gas output around the world, to the tune of a five percent annual reduction in emissions overall, if we are to avoid so-called “runaway” climate change.

Scientists believe that without additional mitigation, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally.

Even a two-degree rise in temperature would be disastrous. Changes in climate will lead to more intense storms, longer periods of drought, crop failures in many developing countries, the destruction of nearly all the coral reefs, the melting of much of the polar ice, the flooding of many low-lying urban areas, the possible collapse of the Amazonian rain forest, and the extinction of 20-30% of the planet's species. 

According to scientists, if the temperature were to rise by six degrees, the impact would be disastrous. At this temperature, the entire planet will be ice-free. Sea levels will rise by 70 meters. Many species of tiny plankton will cease to exist, and the problem would echo up the food chain, bringing the extinction of many fish, sea mammals, and the largest whales. Much of the land will now be desert. Hurricanes of unimaginable ferocity will bring widespread ecological devastation. The ozone layer would probably be destroyed and the burning ultraviolet light could make life on land impossible. Evolution would have been set back a billion years. It would be a planetary catastrophe.

A recent scientific study concluded that just another decade of business-as-usual carbon emissions will probably make it too late to prevent the triggering of runaway climate change. Even in the most hopeful of the scenarios, in which humanity moves away from material consumption towards service and information economies, and the introduction of clean, resource efficient technologies, temperatures are still set to rise by about 2°C by 2090. This would probably lead to a rise in Arctic temperatures by 4-6°C, and a runaway greenhouse effect would still be very likely.

It seems that whatever we may do in the way of reducing fossil carbon emissions and developing alternative sources of energy, we are still facing the very real possibility of runaway climate change and a planetary catastrophe.

What is worrying is that many humans, many countries and most companies are doing very little to avoid such environmental disasters and it seems that it will take a miracle for humanity to "wake up" in time to save itself from extinction.

What are you prepared to do to save humanity?