August 21, 2014 by rayanardati
Summer heat waves and downpours have become more frequent because extreme weather can get trapped for weeks in the same place in a warming world. This real life scenario does have some parallels with the opening scenes of the film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. Sure this film is an exaggeration, but I expect nothing less from a Hollywood blockbuster. However, the underlying message about global warming is relevant.
The average temperature of the Earth has warmed roughly 1° Fahrenheit [0.56° Celsius] in the last century. A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald states that “One of Australia’s most senior climate scientists has called on his colleagues not to sit on the sidelines of the political debate about global warming and other environmental issues, given the evidence they present asks society to consider fundamental changes” (Tom Arup, 2014). Science and politics need to work hand in hand to provide a better understanding about the issues that are taking place. In the film you see the news giving reassurance that the drastic weather changes are temporary and common, in contrast to the climatologists behind the scenes who have discovered that the polar ice caps are melting and a giant ice cap has sheared off. Would it not be helpful for the world to have a greater understanding about this in earlier stages? Not to create havoc but to create awareness to encourage a change of lifestyle (Latour, 2013).
Lifestyles have become more fast-paced, resulting in ‘bigger and faster’ mentalities. We continue to burn fossil fuel and cut down trees, producing CO2 into the air to provide for our day-to-day living. All these human activities are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and as the level of gases rises so does the temperature. We have more of an impact on the earth than we know. There is risk that we are “pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes that have massively disruptive and large-scale impacts.” (AAAS report ‘What We Know’, 2014,). Scientists describe the film as being ‘pumped full of steroids’ but confess there is truth in the matter (National Geographic, 2013). The unfortunate events may not happen now, they may not happen all at once but more people need to be aware that global warming is happening and these scenarios are possible. There is no better wake up call than an apocalyptic scare.
It is estimated that by 2030 Australia will face a further 1ºC of warming in temperatures, increases in severe weather events and up to 25 percent increase months of droughts and fire danger. Australians are mainly coastal inhabitants, therefore, an increase in water levels will mean loss of roads and homes and alternatives must be put into place; alternative energy sources and more sustainable materials (‘Carbon Nuetral’, 2014). The longer we wait to act on climate change the greater the impact will be.
The reality is, this is not a Hollywood blockbuster and Dennis Quaid will not be urging the government to implement climate shift before saving those left astray. When humanity works collectively to make a change, change will happen. The issue of climate change and global warming is caused by human activity; Australians need to take the first step, but it will ultimately take the world’s population to better the situation.
National Geographic, 2013, ‘ Greenhouse Effect’, viewed 18th August 2014 <http://education.nationalgeographic.com.au/education/encyclopedia/greenhouse-effect/?ar_a=1#page=2>
AAAS, 2013, ‘What We Know’, viewed 18th August 2014
NA, 2011, ‘Carbon Neutral’, viewed 15th August 2014
Tom Arup, 2014, ‘Climate change scientist calls on colleagues to speak up on global warming debate’, Sydney Morning herald, viewed 13th August 2014
Latour, 2013, ‘Telling friend from foes’, UTS reading, Viewed 7th August 2014