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Climate Change: Taking the Long View

Science tells us that the world has undergone 5 or 6 periods of glaciation, and that human civilization evolved during the period as the earth warmed at the tail end of the last Ice Age.

There is now a growing awareness that human activities are speeding up the natural warming of the planet and leading toward even more rapid global warming. Daily we read reports about loss of biodiversity and species extinction due to climate change.

1972: As a non-scientist, I find it helpful to take a look at the beginnings of this slow rise in climate consciousness, because I was a young mother in my thirties when it first grabbed my attention. I had an active toddler, and a baby on the way, when the first world conference to make the environment a major issue occurred: The United Nations Conference on the Environment took place in Stockholm in 1972.

A report commissioned by the secretary general of the conference states that the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could see the earth’s temperature rise by 0.05C by the year 2000.

In 1975 I moved with my small family to a small forested 11-acre lot high on the Oak Ridges Moraine and proceeded to learn how to become somewhat self-sufficient, growing vegetables and keeping some chickens and rabbits.

In 1988, NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen confirmed, in a presentation to congress in USA, that it was 99% certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a build up of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. His research found that global warming would cause more heat waves and droughts and would lead to more extreme rain events. He came under considerable pressure to change his testimony.

In that same year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established to provide policy makers with regular scientific assessments on the current state of knowledge about climate change.

In 1990, my first-born child turned 20, and the First IPCC Assessment Report underlined the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation. It played a decisive role in the creation of the UNFCCC, the key international treaty to reduce global warming and cope with the consequences of climate change.

2023: Now I am a grandmother of 4, ranging in age from 11 to 20. It has been a little more than fifty years since I became interested and alarmed about the pace of climate change, and the ability of the general public and politicians to look away or deny its existence.

COP 27, and the IPCC sixth Assessment Report landed with a thud last November. I wonder how many of our policy makers, politicians and movers and shakers of industry have bothered to read the IPCC AR6 Summary for Policymakers.

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1 Comment

Debbie FQ
Debbie FQ
Feb 08, 2023

Well written and thank you for this and your efforts! xo

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