As a society we keep on spending a lot of time and energy arguing if climate change is real and if human activity is having catastrophic effects on Earth’s ecosystems. While we still argue if any action needs to be taken, the consequences of our inaction are pushing us deeper into the quicksand. Scientists have warned us that there is a tipping point or “point of no return” where the accumulated changes in the climate trigger a chain of events that are way beyond our control and that may have even more severe consequences than the direct consequences of our actions. A very serious example of such chain event is the melting of the permafrost in Siberia. The methane contained under the frost will be released in the atmosphere, exacerbating the effects of climate change. If you’re looking for an example of extreme runaway greenhouse effect, look no further than Venus where temperatures average 460 degrees Celsius.
Have we already crossed the line ? Does it really matter ?
We can’t be sure that even if we invest all of our energy into transforming our societies that it will be enough. Even many of the people who were denying and pushing for inaction climate change before are now changing their tune and are admitting that climate change is real, but “argue” that we can’t do anything about it. That kind of thinking is certainly going to drive us in the direction of self destruction. We can be sure that our current actions are setting us on a deadly trajectory – we’re creating a planet that won’t be able to sustain human civilization. I don’t believe that we’ll be able to threaten the fabric of life itself, but we’re certainly going to wipe ourselves off. We can’t be certain that the measures that we are going to take are going to work well enough, fast enough or that they are going to be implemented on big enough scales. We can’t be sure that enough people are going to wake up and realize that “saving the environment” should be the priority of our lifetimes. We can only try to do our best..
To answer the question of the title, yes I think that in a way we certainly are too late already. We’re too late to save the forests that have been destroyed, we’re too late to save the countless species that have been extinct. And I say that we’re too late not because we can’t fix our way of living, but because it’s been long that we are aware of the consequences of our actions. Inaction is often more profitable for the polluters and this is one of the main reasons behind our slow reactions. Just like oil companies have been well aware of the consequences of fossil fuels on the climate for 40 years, and just like tobacco companies knew it causes lung cancer since 1940. Even we still don’t understand all the science involved we need to use our common sense. We can’t keep on destroying and exploiting the planet without destroying the potential for our own future. We’re not too late to understand the gravity of the situation and do whatever we can to resolve our problems.