The UN and EPA weigh in on the future of our international climate



The UN recently released their climate change report for 2022 that gives a detailed look forward into the future of our planet.

On Sunday Feb. 27, the UN released their yearly climate change assessment which foreshadowed a bleak future if the climate of our planet is not addressed. The report was released by the climate action branch of the UN, entitled the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and it takes a hard stance on the future of our planet.

The panel claims, based on their research and observations, that climate change is destroying our food production system, while decimating plant and wildlife species. Climate change impacts those among us who cannot afford to protect themselves. The nations of Africa who only contribute 3% of the world’s pollution are subject to the brunt of climate change.

The shifts that our climate is undergoing may not be inherently visible in places such as Seattle or colder nations such as the UK and Switzerland, but there are unseen yet critical parts of our world economy and ecosystem that are suffering from climate change.

What we do, or don’t do, profoundly affects parts of the world that we cannot see but though unseen by many, cracks are starting to form in the safety of our planet.

Hoesung Lee, the chair of the IPCC said that the “report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

The IPCC urges the world community to act sooner than later to save our planet from the violent climate changes that are driving plant and animal species to extinction. The rapid shifts between droughts, heatwaves and floods have caused many species of trees and coral to suffer while creating food and water insecurities for both humans and animals.

Because climate change is progressing faster than what humans, plants and animals can adapt to, it has become incredibly destructive to our world and is approaching the point of no return.

ABC news reported that the IPCC’s “best-case-scenario, in which warming is limited to 1.5 degrees celsius (2.7 degree fahrenheit), up to 14% of species will face a very high risk of extinction”.

Beyond the loss of animal species the future looks bleak for human food production. Climate change has already started to affect Asian, African and South American countries in such a way that causes food and water insecurity.

Areas such as the pacific islands are in acute danger of rising sea levels and have been faced with increased flooding as a result. In the future many islands could begin to lose ground to our oceans and become increasingly inhospitable.

The impact of climate change on our soil, crops and fisheries would destabilize the world food system, weakening it to future climate shifts and crises.

The weather itself has also caused many deaths around the world due to the dangers of extreme heat and rainfall. Furthermore, wildfires have put many people at greater risk for lung and heart diseases while increased rainfall brings in more mosquitoes and other disease carrying insects.

The danger of climate change also works against the poorest in our communities. Those without homes or those without air conditioning or means of cooling themselves are put at a much greater risk of death than the privileged in our societies.

While the future is grim, it is not completely hopeless. The world has already brought many irreversible climate shifts upon itself but through deep cuts in greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, there is still an opportunity to prevent further damage.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres sees the more than 3,600-page report as “an atlas of human suffering” and a “damning indictment of failed climate leadership.” There are things that leaders around the world could have done to prevent the issues that we face today, but inaction has let our planet slip towards the brink.

While there are steps that can be taken, progress in the United States hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court hears the case of West Virginia v.s. EPA which pits major coal and mining companies against the efforts of President Biden’s climate action plan.

While the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has been tasked with finding and implementing the best ways to reduce our nation’s emissions, they have sparked the anger of major coal and oil corporations which are the second largest producers of natural gas in the nation.

The EPA wishes to shift America’s power grid over to a cleaner and more renewable source but major corporations fear the impact that such a shift could have on their companies and question the limits of the EPA’s jurisdiction.

If the EPA were to lose the case, it would place America’s goal of 50% pollution reduction by 2030 and crossover to entirely clean energy sources by 2035.

Andrew Restrepo, a senior attorney with the Sierra Club argues that states and coal companies “do not and cannot explain how they would be injured.” The EPA is not out to get Coal and oil Companies, but rather transition their means of production to create a more sustainable future.

The Supreme court meeting was held on the same day the IPCC released their climate change report and the two decisions are closely tied together. Climate action associations like the EPA are our world’s greatest hope for a sustainable future.

Despite federal work to counter the climate issue that faces our world, it is essential to do what you can as an individual. At Eastside Catholic, we have a growing community of students who are passionate about our climate and who are taking steps to make a difference.

Despite what the government may mandate, the fight to save our world ultimately comes down to the efforts of each individual to do what they can to protect our environment. We literally have the whole world in our hands.