A Disaster is a Disaster

by inaarahaydari on March 13, 2018 - 2:54pm

A Disaster is a Disaster

By Inaara Haydari

The purpose of the article “Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war” by Jeff Sparrow is to show, through the comparison of the two events, that even when disasters are predicted, there is very little action done to prevent it from happening, as there is a normalization of threats. Extreme weather, according to the author, will be something the new generation is going to be used to. The author does not dwell on the causes of climate change and simply mentions that a high concentration of dioxide carbon increases the frequency and intensity of weather phenomenon. He puts an emphasis on the consequences and the remedies in order to compare and contrast the two historical catastrophes. The consequences of climate change as listed by the author are firstly about diversity concerns. Sparrow gives statistics of bird, insect and mammal species that have declined all over the world in the last decades to conclude that in the four last ones, the global animal population has decreased by almost 60%. He then jumps on weather impacts, stating that record temperatures are going to be felt, giving the example of Siberia that experienced 35 degrees above the average. He also indirectly gives another consequence, which is migration and population displacement, by comparing climate change to the First World War. Instead of talking about concrete remedies, he rather points out the warnings and the reactions to them. Sparrow states that, just like with WWI, despite the many warnings and forecasting that have been regularly given, it is the politicians’ passive reactions that should be held accountable for the lack of responsibility. He believes the experts’ publicity and fight are going to be useless if there is no political will. He keeps going saying that situation is even more absurd considering the fact that the more there are warnings and repercussions felt, the less there are actions done about it. Sparrow believes one of the reason there is so much inaction is that just like with the war, there are some people who win more in this situation, such as energy competitors. It is not policies that need to be changed, but the political system itself. He concludes by saying that the consequences of climate change might be much worse than we think, compared to the First World War, as the revolution and chaos have not risen yet.

            It seems to me that many articles that I read about climate change mostly overlook political will as a concrete remedy. I believe that it is important for funding, but indeed governments refuse to hold responsibility for what is happening. The countries that contributed the less to greenhouses emissions are the ones that suffer the most, which is the case for many African countries. This, I believe, should be a legal and ethical responsibility of the global community, including international instruments, not only governments. After Trump announced that he retracted from the Paris Agreement, many corporations and businesses came forward and stated that they would still envision environmental protection and keep emission reduction as a goal. It became their responsibility. Similarly, if governments refuse to cooperate, there is no time to wait around, someone else has to take their shoes and act. The comparison to World War I is unusual, yet very important. Although it looks at human nature rather pessimistically, it looks at climate change with a hope. Humans tend to be indecisive and unproductive until the very last moment, which might be why so many refuse to cooperate and change policies regarding climate change, and tend to look at the past with regrets. By making a comparison with a past historical event, the author allows readers to understand how catastrophic and regretful our inaction could be.