Climate change is one of those topics that you might hear over and over again but when it comes to taking meaningful action, things can come to a standstill.
Just last week, the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a staggering report.
They concluded that a million species are now facing extinction, “many within decades.”
“What’s at stake here is a livable world,” says Robert Watson, who acted as chairman for IPBES. Among the things that are ruining nature include:
- Seventy-five percent of land has been “severely altered” by human activities.
- One hundred million hectares of tropical forest have been destroyed between 1980 and 2000.
- Wetlands, which provide clean water and fish, are being destroyed three times faster than forests.
- Plastic pollution has increased 10-fold since 1980 and 300 million to 400 million tons of industrial waste are dumped each year.
When grouping all the issues together, the top three direct drivers of change in nature include 1. changes in land and sea use 2. direct exploitation of organisms and, of course, 3. climate change.
The report reads:
“Since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius – with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics – impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.”
So yea, things are kind of urgent.
But do people care?
Well this week, some pretty big names upped the urgency and all forms of niceness went out the window.
Remember Bill Nye the Science Guy? The supposedly kid-friendly T.V. host who anchored a fun show about science on PBS?
Well he pretty much cursed out anyone who wasn’t taking climate change seriously in a viral episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
When explaining carbon pricing — or the idea that companies should pay a fine for carbon emissions since they contribute to climate change — John Oliver also brought up the Green New Deal. The large policy proposal, most notably spearhead by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, lists a number of strategies and suggestions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (such as carbon) and to center an economy around clean, renewable energy.
Without the plan or other urgent forms of action, the current climate crisis could have grave consequences. Mr. Nye explained this by setting a globe on fire and saying, “By the end of this century if emissions keep rising, the average temperature on earth can go up another four to eight degrees. What I’m saying is, the planet’s on fu**ing fire!”
“There are a lot of things we can do to put it out. Are any of them free? No, of course not, nothing’s free you idiots. Grow the fu** up. You’re not children anymore. I didn’t mind explaining photosynthesis to you when you were 12. But you’re adults now and this is an actual crisis. Got it!”
Peep the tough talk starting at the 18:33 mark below…
Bill wasn’t the only one to go viral for his no nonsense take on climate change. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also took a direct approach when responding to reported plans by presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Heather Zichal, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, is now apart of Biden’s counsel on climate change. She told Reuters that Biden’s approach to the issue will include re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement along with strengthening regulation on emissions and fuel-efficiency standards.
“What we learned from the Obama administration is unless we find middle ground on these issues, we risk not having any policies,” she told Reuters.
This “middle ground” was not enough for AOC, however. The young congresswoman spoke at an event promoting the Green New Deal on Monday and she addressed “conservatives on both sides of the aisle” claiming her climate change proposal is too radical or extreme. She condemned the inaction of lawmakers who were warned about climate change 30 years ago:
“I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then are going to try to come back today and say, ‘We need a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives,'” she said.
Though it’s not certain if AOC was addressing Biden directly, her impassioned clip eventually went viral with celebs like Janelle Monáe sharing the footage.
Biden eventually clapped back at AOC, saying he never used the words “middle of the road” when talking about climate change policy, and he asked her to look at his record when it came to his support for a “green revolution.”
But whoever AOC was talking to, they should know that she and Bill Nye aren’t playing, and they definitely won’t be the last to get more aggressive when it comes to climate change.