Stereotype-in-English

Environmental issues are not boring… (1)

illustration of a mermaid with flippers on fire in a deserted sea due to climate change

World Humor Awards 2016 on the theme of climate change and environmental issues. 1st prize Elena Ospina (Colombia)

Over time, environmental issues have been stereotyped a lot. Perceived as very secondary, almost useless. Apart from a few “green” fanatics. In the news they always reach the bottom, in the working world they are seen as marginal occupations, in daily life no weight. The sun, the moon, the sky, everything is still there as we have always seen it. At the end. These themes can attract compassion or mockery. At best a certain boredom…

Too bad that if the Earth doesn’t hold up, everything else too!

YBYA award I would say… – freely translated from an Italian TV program – You Bet Your A..! But it seems that we need to remember it everyday! Environmental issues are not an issue anymore, they are the issue!

“We must save the Planet”

You can heard this around, but it still sounds ridiculous, and few believe it. The Earth, in fact, saves itself when it wants (and always if it “wants”). As George Carlin used to say, “it tears us apart like a bunch of fleas”. Rather we should say: “WE have to do something if we want to try to save OURSELVES”. Maybe the situation changes weight and you start to think that something gets done seriously. And everyone has to do it. If our intention is to preserve this life as we know it: each people with its traditions, its food, its climate…

We began to realize this because something began to change before our eyes

by force and more forcefully, from year 2013, now known as “one of the hottest year on the planet”. But not everyone have noticed that… 2014 has undermined it, and so 2015 and 2016 (the hottest by far). But every year – 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 – is anyway in the scheme. And this trend will continue like this, if we do not move every day, also as individual citizens. Living more responsibly (just more care?) about what it is up to us: from purchasing choices to managing our own waste, from using the car to managing the house…

When people have some doubt like: “should we leave the light on?”

(when you go out, maybe for safety reason); “I prefer to leave the heating on” (maybe because you stay away just 1-2 days and wish a warm home when come back); “We love to combo air conditiong and winter duvet“. “I enjoy staying minutes inside a motionless, warm/cold car while others are dying from its pollution”. “We use to leave the TV / computer / WI-FI on when we are out”. “I am not accustomed to close the water when not in use”. “We have no time/aptitude/will to follow the waste sorting”.  But if you get the doubt, try to give another answer.

We all are asked to forget our personal preferences

to think more about what is the fairest environmental choice. But few are really trying to change their habits, delegating all the effort to the governments. Even the more sensitive people. And, if it is true that the biggest changes comes from the biggest realities (politics, media and business), we all have the power to favour certain choices, or not.

The 10 hottest years on Earth… from 2013 they are all mentioned, almost lined up and do not bode well regarding the environmental issues... (from 9news.com)

The 10 hottest years on Earth… from 2013 they are all mentioned, almost lined up and do not bode well regarding the environmental issues… (from 9news.com)

Another proof of a changed attitude towards the environmental issues

which is talking about the Earth and what surrounds it: the international agreements on environmental matters, every 20-25 years, are increasingly important. 2015, for example, was also a year of good news: the COP21 Paris Agreement, (Cop stands for “Conference of the parties”), the first that recognized the importance (and urgency) of taking environmental issues seriously, and in particular climate trends. Suddenly, since they were useless, they have become fundamental, because “at the birth of Christ we were 200 million people, after 1200 years we have become 400, today we are 8 billion:”. Half a billion more in only 5 years.

“Yesterday it was an empty world, today it is a full world”.

“The change has always been going on”, said Mario Cirillo of Ispra (Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research in Italy) when it was time to present the Paris and beyond vademecum the Italian Parliament used to navigate the global climate situation. In short, now we are feeling it. The third last Kyoto agreement in 1990 was just an attempt to set a “good example”. Paris 2015 was the first universal and legally binding agreement on climate change. It posed specific objectives: to curb “global warming within 2 degrees of the pre-industrial level, and if possible also within 1.5 degrees, reducing the greenhouse gases produced by human activities”. Otherwise, even if virtuous enough for 2020 (first climate goal), life as we know it will already be at risk by 2030 (second climate goal).

By now we can say that we got a lot of good intentions, but we didn’t make it

delegating to Cop26 Glasgow 2021 a more stringent goal. Or another “blah blah blah” as Greta Thumberg underlined (actually not completely a bluff, but an unsufficient effort, that yes):

  1. Reducing emissions by 2030 and achieving zero emissions by 2050: accelerate the move away from coal, reduce deforestation, speed up the transition to electric vehicles and encourage investments in renewable energy.
  2. Adapting to protect and restore communities and natural habitats: to counter the effects of the climate that continues to change even while adopting virtuous behavior. As well as building resilient defenses, warning systems and infrastructures against natural disasters.
  3. Mobilizing finances: to enable the achievement and concretely support developing countries. At least 100 billion dollars a year for the climate. International financial institutions are also required to join in commitment and participation.
  4. Collaborate to achieve the goal: to tackle the climate crisis, governments, businesses and civil society must actively collaborate.

Paris Cop21 was the first time when Usa and China took part, at least

two countries that hadn’t signed anything in Kyoto in the name of their economic growth. In fact, alone, they produce 40% of absolute emissions (Europe 12%): in short, without them any effort would be in vain. But at that time there was Obama, then we got a neBragationist Trump and now, in Glasgow, many fundamental countries like China, Russia and Brazil did not attend at all. Al Jazeera has created an useful infographic where you can see What has your country pledged at COP26?

Infographic: Which Countries Are Meeting Their Paris Agreement Goals? | Statista

On the eve of Cop26 (November 2021) this is the situation: regarding the 2° Celsius goal “out of larger, industrialized countries, the European Union and the UK as well as South Africa, are currently the only places where it will probably met. While in the U.S., Japan and Canada the goal will be probably missed. African nations Nigeria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Gambia and Kenya as well as Costa Rica and Nepal are, at the moment, on track to meet the 1.5° Celsius goal. The website analyzed the climate policies of 36 countries and the EU”. (Statista infographic)

At the beginning the EU’s progress towards gas reduction targets seemed ok 

“In fact, it has managed to reduce emissions while expanding its economy. GDP grew by 46% between 1990 and 2014 while the intensity of emissions fell by almost half, decoupling that occurred in all EU countries”. Even if it must be said that the economic crisis and financial helped the process. “We therefore start from a privileged condition such as Italy because we have done a good part of the CO2 reduction process in recent years, reaching the Kyoto targets 5 years in advance“, said the former Minister of the Environment Gianluca Galletti 5 years ago.

Cop26 showed us that we must be very careful, instead

Simply the intentions can be good, but the timing is fundamental. The system of incentives for renewable sources in Italy has been frozen for long. And in general, even if Italy seems to be so green, we are not the champions of environmentalism. Just think about our air pollution which has reached the negative record of premature deaths in Italy compared to other EU countries: this is over 84 thousand victims in 2012 out of 491 thousand at European level. And the trend has not changed: one of the last European Environment Agency’s report (2021) confirms that “the greatest health risks in terms of premature deaths and years of life lost (YLL) attributable to PM2.5 exposure” (fine particles) “are estimated for the countries with some of the largest populations. Namely, in order of decreasing rank, Germany, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom and France“.

“For 800 thousand years now, no one has breathed air so full of CO2”

underlines Gianmaria Sannino of Enea (Italian National Energy and Environment Agency). In fact we do not know what this means. “Europe must be particularly monitored because it crosses multiple climates. The typhoons are not increasing, but they are changing in strength: Hurricane Matthew has strengthened over the course of the hours and was particularly long in 2016″. Without mention: Hurricane Vince in 2005, which struck southwestern Spain as a tropical depression; and Subtropical Storm Alpha in 2020, which made landfall in northern Portugal at peak intensity. In the meanwhile “the sea will continue to grow”.

“Climate scenarios can be many: from cooling to overheating”

“from ice to anomalous rains. But since 2014 we have been moving towards the worst scenario“. Today we also know the “heat waves“. “They kill more people than hurricanes, 40 thousand dead in Europe in 2003 alone”, for long the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540. Then we got 2006, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2019 and 2021 to confirm the worsening of frequency. “Roma will have 2 degrees more of average summer temperature every year, if we won’t do anything…” Just to give a more “handy example”, the actual winter 2021-2022: in 40 years I live here I don’t remember such a warm winter. So much that no plant or flower has stopped its flourishing. This could even be personally awesome, but it is not “normal” at all.

The Italian and global climate situation is controversial

if on the one hand, until 2016 the numbers supported us enough, it is now necessary not to bask on our laurels. “We already register 0.8 degrees higher than in the pre-industrial era. This means that in 2100 we will have reached 100 degrees higher if we do not change something in our daily and production habits as well”. Climate change is today among the top global risks: “it is less likely only than large-scale involuntary migration, but this is already underway too, and above all for climatic reasons…”

(continue here: Environmental issues are not boring… also because you die! ;)

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