Grasp the Scale of the Challenge!

 532 billion tonnes of ice were lost from Greenland in 2019 – the most since records began. It is an incomprehensibly huge figure. 

That equates to about a million tonnes per minute; enough to fill seven Olympic-sized swimming pools per second. Mind boggling!
Just a year ago it was predicted that land that is currently home to 300 million people will flood at least once a year by 2050 unless carbon emissions are cut significantly and although this figure was a revision of the previous estimate of 80 million, it looks as though it will have to be revised upwards yet again.
Mankind has set something in motion over the last 200 years which seems unstoppably immense, but stop it we must! I imagine that when such vast populations lose their homes, livelihoods and lands, societies will become extremely unstable, politics polarized, migration will accelerate and conflicts for resources will become intense.
Meanwhile the crisis is accelerating. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at double the rate of lower latitudes and the 2019 loss of Greenland ice was double the previous annual average of 255 billion tonnes. Almost that amount was lost in July 2019 alone.
It is scientific data like this that often brings me to the point of despair. Greta Thunberg criticized world leaders for failing to achieve any progress during the two years since she started her school strike. But things have started to change. A UDC working party zoom meeting I attended in August discussed the issues of the climate and biodiversity crises in terms that would have been unthinkable two years ago. The BBC is now covering the issue without feeling that they have to wheel out a climate change denier for the sake of ‘balance’ and even Google has stopped funding organizations that deny or work to block action on the climate crisis.
Most of all, each and every one of us is directly experiencing the effects of extreme weather events, even in our most benign and temperate location on the planet. The trouble is that we keep getting distracted by issues that seem more immediate and acute: whether by Brexit or the coronavirus, which has set the COP 26 Climate conference in Glasgow back a year.
It would help if we started to see the interconnectedness of all these things. At a UN summit on biodiversity, scheduled to be held in New York in September, scientists are to warn world leaders that increasing numbers of deadly new pandemics will afflict the planet if levels of deforestation and biodiversity loss continue at their current catastrophic rates.
There is apparently now clear evidence of strong links between environmental destruction and the increased emergence of deadly new diseases such as Covid-19. Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of farming and the building of mines in remote regions are creating a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people.
Our behaviours are creating these problems, so it must equally lie in our power to put things right.