In a few weeks, delegates from nearly 200 countries will meet in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Their goal — to finalize a worldwide, binding, and universal agreement on climate. The New York Times reports that “Unconditional national commitments made by countries for the Paris meeting are projected to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 by an average of only 3 percent below the business-as-usual average rise of 8 percent.”
Scientists may be worried about the long-term effects of climate change, but your average American doesn’t seem to be too bothered. Recently, The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released the results of its mid-October poll — the majority of Americans (two out of three) believe in global warming and agree that that human activities are at least part of the cause, but fewer than one in four Americans are extremely or very worried about it.
The poll revealed that roughly one out of three Americans are “moderately worried” about climate change, and 38 percent (the highest percentage) were “not too worried” or “not at all worried.” Just 36 percent of Americans see global warming as a moral issue, despite the pleas of Pope Francis.
Perhaps they should be more worried, given the latest news about climate change. It could affect everything from our food supply to our water levels.
“Climate change poses severe and distinct threats to food security, and could subject an additional 600 million people to malnutrition by 2080,” warned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver. “Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather, rising temperatures and sea levels, as well as floods and droughts have a significant impact on the right to food. All these climate incidents will negatively impact on crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and on people’s livelihoods.”
Meanwhile, a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has found that the huge West Antarctic ice sheet would collapse completely if the comparatively small Amundsen Basin is destabilized. If the ice were to fully discharge into the ocean, the sea level could rise three meters. Computer simulations show that just a few decades of ocean warming could start an ice loss that continues for hundreds of years, or even thousands.
So, in short … if you aren’t worried yet, then start worrying.