I stood in front of the Starbucks, using its free wifi to find an ATM. It was mid-October this year. I was took aback when a powerful wind began to flip people’s umbrellas inside out. The wind tilted the heavy rain that begun to strike the sidewalk at an almost sharp angle. Nearby me the 2 big Starbucks umbrellas began to dance and their edges to flutter.
Many people rushed inside the shopping malls in the downtown Düsseldorf; others like me, found their way inside the Starbucks of course. It seemed like the start of an unusual storm for Germany. People in office buildings pulled their sunshades up to see what’s happening outside.
Our appearance confused the baristas behind the counter, then they looked outside and smiled. Me and another 6 people, as far as I recall, turned around and watched the street through the glass door. I could hear the slow music, smell the sweet coffee, and the chatter. Starbucks was a relaxing bunker.
But why am I telling you this, my friends? Well, at that moment something really surprised me and became the inspiration of this article. It wouldn’t have been so if people next to me didn’t pull out their iPhones to record the storm. LOL. Do you see where I’m going with this? Let me explain.
You might think it’s nothing wrong with this. Of course—it’s your choice; maybe you would’ve done the same. Maybe I would’ve done the same on another day. But here’s what’s weirdly amiss with this: In the age of climate change our first instinct to unusual weather is to film it. Yes, my friends. For my fellow folks, and alas, to our big misfortune, the storm was a mere spectacle.
Yet it was a snapshot, tiny yet meaningful—if they would’ve payed full attention to it, that is—of how it feels when the weather goes berserk. I mean feeling as in acknowledging your emotions. Because, even if it lasted for less than 5 minutes—an insignificant, very rare, and silent fart on the part of Mother Nature—the storm scared us into fleeing inside buildings after all. We are so frail we couldn’t stay outside, not that it’s wise to do so, even in the face of a teeny-tiny fart. Yet somehow some decided this is an Instagramable spectacle?
What I suggest, and you may disagree with me, is that this is a lost opportunity to understand how fragile we are against the climate. Putting a screen between us and reality won’t help to acknowledge this truth. My secret desire then was to tell the folks next to me to leave their gadget in the pocket for their children’s sake and watch and listen to the storm with their full self. After all, it’s a lesson of empathy toward our brothers and sisters who face real disaster. You were scared, but they?, I secretly wanted to tell the people in the Starbucks. The Japanese couldn’t hide in a Starbucks before the recent and the biggest hurricane in 60 years flooded their homeland and killed 78 people and devastated hundreds of homes.
Of course, I cannot link what happened in Dusseldorf with climate change. But we know so well by now that we face unprecedented weather: hurricanes, rains, heatwaves, snowstorms, wildfires, and draughts. Just read the news. Yet these are the mere visible consequences of the most consequential disaster in our history. Do nothing against climate change and the death toll during the Black Death and the 20th and 21st century wars will pale in contrast with that of a toxic climate.
But what I’m stressing here is the word…visible. Much of the climate change our thirst for oil brought us to has been silent and hidden. A kind of manufactured yet deadly silence. While the Big Oil spent millions to deceive us into believing its product is as harmless as the milk in my young mother’s tits, the ocean—also in a kind of deadly silence—was absorbing the excess heat we are still creating on this planet. Since 1970 the ocean had absorbed 90% of that extra heat, my friends. Just think about it.
In fact, let me put this in more simple words. The whole stockpile of weapons, nuclear and otherwise, that America, Russia and all countries combined cannot create the tiniest fraction of that heat. How much heat goes into the ocean today? To recreate that amount, every year you’d have to explode almost 75 million nuclear bombs similar to the one America used to kill 75,000 Japanese in Nagasaki. And that’s twice the amount of heat we had been releasing in the atmosphere from 1969 to 1993.
It’s no surprise we begin to see extraordinary or extreme weather. After all, we pumped the ocean with an enormous amount of energy that serves as extra rocket fuel for any hurricane that, as a result, travels to our shore mightier and faster. And with the sea rising the impact of such event will reach farther into the mainland, followed by months of slow and expensive recovery of property, infrastructure, and mental health. Between 2006 and 2015 Greenland and the Antarctic together lost as much water every year as 28 million heavy trucks can carry. That’s 7 times more trucks than the whole European truck fleet. Of course, that’s 280 million fully loaded, heavy trucks of ice we lost in just 10 years.
So yes my friends, we must tame the weather and stop climate change. It’s an unprecedented disaster we must counter with an unprecedented grassroots movement. And this is happening, because…well, our intellectuals have failed us. September this year we witnessed a unprecedented, historical, and brave movement. I’m happy to had been part of at least 4 million people, many of them schoolchildren (with their supporting adult counterparts) who, in one day, came into the streets to say a big no to fossil fuel and a big yes to a healthy adulthood. I’m sure many of these concerned children will become the next politician, the new and much-needed intellectuals. That’s hope.
Because…what’s the alternative? What if we let the Big Oil and crooked politicians continue destroying our habitat? It’s enough to take a look at the latest IPCC report to understand how such a scenario will look like by 2100. 100 scientists came together to comb through 7000 scientific publications from the latest literature and answer this critical question. The answer is doom; our home will be kaput by the end of this century (take a look at the image below). To avoid becoming helpless victims of this scenario, we must cut our greenhouse emissions by 45% below 2010 level by 2030. (And by the way, those who dismiss this reliable source of truth or dismiss science at all should likewise dismiss all technology scientists have built ditch their iPhones, computers, xboxes, and twitter accounts and go live in a cave. ) It’s a tight deadline and we’ll very likely not make it. So it’s time we left our iPhones in the pocket and watched the climate in the eye. After all, no Starbucks will protect us from a changing climate.0