“Climate change: time to panic?” -Shahid Javed Burki

Shahid Javed Burki is a former caretaker finance minister and served as vice-president of the World Bank.

The question posed above is about climate change; the age of climate panic is here wrote The New York Times in a special report on the subject of what mankind faced if it did not urgently address the issue of global warming.

The heatwave in 2018 that produced the fourth hottest year in the history of the United States killed dozens from Quebec in Canada to Japan. There were the most destructive wildfires in the Californian history that turned more than a million acres to ash. Pacific hurricanes forced three million in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.

There are many other climate-related stories from around the world. We are experiencing a world that has already warmed one degree Celsius since the late 1800s when records began to be kept.

Scientists have determined that we are adding Earth-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than any other point in history since the beginning of industrialisation.

Scientists no longer quarrel about their findings. In October 2018, the United Nations Panel on Climate Change issued what has come to be called the ‘Doomsday’ report — a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen, as one United Nations official described the document — outlining climate consequences at 1.5 and two degrees Celsius of warming.

They have also begun to examine the consequences of temperatures moving beyond three to four degrees Celsius. In the latter case, the world as we know today would cease to exist. There is no one in the already crowded Democratic field for the presidential poll of 2020 in America who does not endorse an agenda concerning climate change. Panic has hit the Democrats in the United States. Panic has also hit the American youth.

An initiative taken by Alexandria Villasenor, a 13-year-old girl from New York has grown into a global movement. She is one of a group of young, mostly female, activists behind the ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ campaign.

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