Climate change: Code Red for humanity
Another island morning as dawn slowly crests the horizon. Your house is chilled. Windows streaked with ice; ground covered in snow; the precious grass you’ve spent hours fertilising and watering into perfection is frozen.
“This can’t be. I’m dreaming. It doesn’t snow on island.”
You scramble to find a winter coat – then, walking briskly, you head to the beach. Ice sparkling everywhere, the sand covered in melting snow, barefoot wading – the sea is absolutely freezing, feet turning blue in a matter of minutes.
What a phenomenon. Out comes the phone – got to record this one-off for posterity, you think!
Sun full up, all winter evidence melts off. It is still very cold. Days go by, more snow, more ice, dangerous driving commutes, multitudes of skidding, sliding, crashes in icy road conditions. Retail run on space heaters, gloves, winter gear, ER broken bone accidents, the lot.
Readers, you may dismiss this as total pure conjecture.
Alright, let’s try a different illustrative scenario.
A reverse reality.
The island environment is very, very hot, dry, almost desert-like, absent of Tradewinds and their welcoming rains. The sea is warm, too warm all year while levels keep rising over docks and beaches at every moontide. Fish catch almost non-existent. Hurricanes are more ferocious, and frequent. Further, fresh water levels are critical – daily use is curtailed routinely.
What is this? Scare tactics? Science fiction? A figment of author imagination?
No, they are possible future climate changes that may impact the North Atlantic environment.
It is Code Red for humanity, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres on last week’s release of the IPCC Working Group 1 physical science assessment of the pace of global climate change.
“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.
“The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. We owe this to the entire human family, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations that are the hardest hit despite being least responsible for today’s climate emergency.”
“The solutions are clear. Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.
“All nations, especially the G20 and other major emitters, need to join the net-zero emissions coalition and reinforce their commitments with credible, concrete and enhanced nationally determined contributions and policies before COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, fall 2021.”
In our North Atlantic environment, currently, the Gulf Stream, too, is under severe stress. The Stream, so vital to our lives for hundreds of years, circulating, soothing, warming our shores, bringing trade winds and beneficial sea life in what used to be bounteous quantities. The Gulf Stream, one of Earth's major climate-regulating ocean currents – is moving slower than it has in thousands of years, a new study suggests, with human activity climate changes to blame.
Our Earth is physically rebelling against our wasteful, careless, and hedonistic lifestyles. The repercussions are ominous, present, and scientifically documented.
Bermuda, very early on, has taken on the role of the world’s climate risk capital utilising our decades of strength in natural catastrophe risk management. Bermuda’s unique re/insurance market has played a lead role in protecting the world against the devastating impact of catastrophic events. Bermuda re/insurers have paid out more than quarter of a trillion dollars over the past 20 years in claims arising from disasters both natural and man-made – and that's in the United States and European Union alone.
According to the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, with the effects of climate change creating the potential for unprecedented catastrophe losses in the coming years, Bermuda's role has never been more globally relevant.
Bermuda has long-ago built a critical mass of highly-relevant human capital and talent as well as the ideal regulatory environment to oversee and support this sector.
One outstanding research organisation is our Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, founded in 1903 as the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, has developed from a small marine biological centre and field station into a world-class ocean science research and education facility with the ongoing Sargasso Sea project, the Atlantic Ocean Flux Programme and the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study, the longest record of ocean sediment-trap studies in the world, and others, all critical to the climate risk crises evolving today.
Acting as a bridge between science and industry, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences has performed a crucial role in the research and understanding around the important issue of climate risk.
Our island can boast a bit – having implemented many conservation top-of-mind projects for centuries, but so much more is needed at this critical time.
If we want our children, grandchildren to have any world to survive in – forget thriving – the time is now.
The United Nations IPCC assessment estimates that we have less than 30 years to repair this damage, to bring the global heating of the atmosphere back to manageable levels.
How can we radically and dramatically change our personal habits to effect change?
Each of us is capable of doing something, however small.
Green America suggests Ten Ways You Can Fight Climate Change
1. Eliminate food waste: produces methane gas, eat less, buy less, compost
2. Eat plant-based food – it can cut your carbon footprint in half
3. Use clean, renewable energy
4. Use your democratic choices – vote for politicians who are climate activists
5. Divest, then reinvest in ESG compliant industries
6. Improve heating/cooling efficiency
7. Use LED efficient lighting
8. Plan efficient less-carbon waste transportation
9. Recycle, reuse, reduce
10. Buy and consume less, refuse – this is a real challenge, for industry sales and us – we are so consumer-oriented, it is embedded in our psyche.
Finally, learn about these issues. Read the UN IPCC report. Our entire international business industry has committed to climate risk changes study and actions. Be alert for their research findings.
Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz? How many planets do we need if everybody lived like you? Global Footprint Network, https://www.footprintcalculator.org/
I did, thinking I was ecologically focused. Hah. My results were very embarrassing. Maybe you are doing far better.
ESG Monthly – will be starting a reader contribution checklist of small ordinary actionable items to save our home island and our planet. Please contribute, I welcome all suggestions and ideas.
“The Gulf Stream is slowing to a 'tipping point' and could disappear”, by Brandon Specktor, March 3, 202. https://www.livescience.com/gulf-stream-slowing-climate-change.html
“Green America” by Mary Meade, https://www.greenamerica.org/your-green-life/10-ways-you-can-fight-climate-change
United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1 report on the physical science basis of the sixth assessment, August 9, 2021, https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sgsm20847.doc.htm
• Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, International financial consultant to the Olderhood Group International, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org