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The Future is Now

A Desperate Call for Climate Action

By Tomas Pizarro-Escuti

a group of people sitting outside of COP26 in Glasgow with signs that say "Love and Grief for the Earth"

June 2023 will forever be etched in history as the hottest recorded June. The climate emergency is no longer a distant specter; it is a menacing reality that demands immediate action. It is time for a green revolution—a transformative shift in the way we produce, transport, and consume.

The consequences of this escalating crisis are devastating. Last summer alone, nearly 62,000 lives were lost in Europe due to unprecedented heatwaves. More than 50 per cent of Earth's coral reefs have already perished, despite their critical role in sequestering a third of the world's CO2 emissions. Arctic summer sea ice is rapidly declining, with predictions suggesting its disappearance as early as 2035. Furthermore, most countries have fallen short in fulfilling their Paris Agreement commitments. Even the largest emitters, including China, the United States, the European Union, and India, have failed to make substantial reductions in their emissions.

The consequences of inaction are already visible. The UN Refugee Agency reports that, since 2008, an average of 21.5 million people per year have been forcibly displaced due to climate change. In 2020 alone, climate-related disasters uprooted 30.7 million individuals. Regrettably, future projections are even bleaker. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, there could be 200 million climate refugees—approximately 2 per cent of the global population.

We stand at a critical juncture in human history. The climate emergency demands our undivided attention and unwavering commitment. We must shift the narrative, prioritising the preservation of our planet over political gamesmanship. Together, we can initiate a green revolution, transforming the way we live, work, and interact with our environment. It is time to reorient our present because - make no mistake - the FUTURE IS NOW. Let universities be the birthplace of a movement that inspires the world—a movement that breathes life into a shared vision of a sustainable and resilient future.

In 2018-2019, the fight against climate change gained prominence and became the "trendy" cause of the moment. But it seems that the urgency and gravity of the challenge have faded from public consciousness. Our world, at times, feels like Game of Thrones, with elites engrossed in power struggles while an army of "undead white walkers" threatens to annihilate us all. The battle against climate change represents the most significant challenge humanity has ever faced—a challenge that necessitates collective action, coordination, and above all, sincerity.

We can no longer afford to procrastinate. The time for action is now. It is not merely a matter of convenience or personal preference; it is an ethical duty and a noble cause. However, the current state of political polarisation, with its populist far-right and far-left movements, is jeopardising our future. To move forward, we must transcend these divisions and chart a new path that aligns with the well-being of our planet and future generations.

The Fridays for Future Movement, led by inspiring school pupils, succeeded in galvanising a generation. These students have now progressed to become university students, and it is within higher education, as knowledge hubs - that the fight against the climate emergency should remerge. However, campuses today often seem preoccupied with identity politics, neglecting the urgency of the climate emergency. It is crucial that university students, together with the NUS, form a student-led movement that tackles the climate emergency - before it is too late. This movement must act professionally, raising awareness while actively seeking political power.

While groups like Extinction Rebellion and Stop Oil have championed the right cause, their strategies have, unfortunately, proven ineffective. Their campaigns, at times too abstract and detached from ordinary people's realities, have led to alienation rather than widespread support. To overcome this challenge, ecological movements must unite under a common, organised movement that aims to attain actual political power. Universities can play a pivotal role in spearheading this effort. I invite students to ignite the spark of a green revolution, perhaps in Europe’s oil capital?

We stand at a critical juncture in human history. The climate emergency demands our undivided attention and unwavering commitment. We must shift the narrative, prioritising the preservation of our planet over petty politics. It is time to reorient our present because, make no mistake, the future is now.

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