Climate change science is telling us that the damage is already done, and that what we’re seeing today is just a hint of what’s to come as the climate continues to destabilize.
For example, because ice caps and glaciers are melting faster than they are growing, sea levels are already rising enough to threaten coastal cities and low-lying communities. Heat waves, heavy rains, and unusual weather phenomena are killing cattle and birds. Increasing carbon dioxide content in the air is being absorbed by the ocean, making it more acidic, killing off fish and coral reefs that can only live in a small window of pH levels and water temperatures.
What is happening right now, however, is only a shadow of what is coming. As the climate becomes less reliable, growing seasons and stable weather patterns will affect agriculture, which threatens our food supply. Heat waves and unusual rain patterns threaten our freshwater supply. Climate change will affect every part of human civilization. Climate change, over the coming decades, will force us to adapt, or kill the millions who can’t.
Those in power who are attempting to enforce change recognize that the costs of inaction are too high, such as US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said, “There are those who say we can’t afford to act, but waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.” The main thing that we are learning is that we don’t know enough about what we’ve done to the climate and what exactly is going to happen in order to prepare for it. As human beings, we are woefully ill-equipped to prepare for the damage that we’ve already done.