The easy case for climate action
I was in Sardinia in May with my climate-sceptic buddy. His personal view is that climate change may be happening, but the evidence is weak that it’s caused by humans. He also believes that there is little that humans can do individually that will make a difference, and that (academically-speaking) we should consider the potential harms of any new public policy action.
He further stated that there are many distinguished academics who have contrary views on the need for climate action. The car, he insisted, remains the single biggest contribution to personal freedom in the last 100 years.
Making the case
The easy case for climate action is the need for adaptation based on current and continuing extreme weather. Sardinia, where my friend and I had our chilly conversation on the issue of climate change, peaked at 46oC at the end of July.
Temperatures in southern Europe are consistently around the 40s right now; Italy’s Red Alerts for extreme heat advise locals not to go into direct sunlight between 11am and 6pm.
The human body can’t withstand these continuous high temperatures. At 40oC heatstroke can set in rapidly. Symptoms include high body temperatures, vomiting, and altered mental states. Left untreated it can lead to coma, organ failure, seizures, heart attack and death. As well as a climate emergency, this is a medical emergency. It’s only a matter of time with these excessive temperatures before people begin to move away from these areas permanently.
In the UK, our homes are not equipped for excessive heat. We don’t routinely have shutters on our windows. We don’t routinely have air conditioning. Few new builds cater for extreme weather events. And our habits are more likely to lead to people seeking out the heat than avoiding it.
My brother in California – where the Death Valley temperature recently topped 54oC – says they are now used to regular heatwaves. They plan accordingly.
Here, few communities are ready for extreme heat, flash flooding or wildfires. And fewer politicians see or articulate the need for change. And yet, responding to today’s extreme weather remains the best and easiest case for climate action.
To talk about the case for climate action and the human impacts of climate change, drop me a line at email@example.com