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Experts raise concerns about how our environment will give rise to an ominous new era of unrest: 'That's the politics of the armed lifeboat'

"The real danger is that there are so many other crises around us that there is no effort left for the climate crisis."

"The real danger is that there are so many other crises around us that there is no effort left for the climate crisis."

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According to new research, Earth's average temperature is already surpassing the 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit limit adopted by world leaders in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Climatologists predict that reaching this threshold will be accompanied by intensified impacts of changing weather. Experts agree that these increasing climate shocks could lead to social unrest and political backlash. 

What's happening?

Posted in January, the Berkeley Earth annual climate report shows Earth's average temperature in 2023 at 2.77 degrees above the pre-industrial average. This is the first concrete step past the established target.

But the public is hardly registering this news, climate researcher Reinhard Steurer said in an Inside Climate News article. 

"The real danger is that there are so many other crises around us that there is no effort left for the climate crisis," he said. "We will find all kinds of reasons not to put more effort into climate protection, because we are overburdened with other things like inflation and wars all around us." 

Why is increasing global temperature concerning? 

According to Inside Climate News, current global policies and action have the Earth on a trajectory to warm about 4.86 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which would endanger modern human civilization within the lifetime of children born today. 

Rising temperatures affect not just the climate but also social and political structures. 

"At times of such huge uncertainty, a veritable plague of toxic public feelings can be unleashed, which provide the effective underpinning for political movements such as populism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism," social policy researcher Paul Hoggett wrote in the new book Paradise Lost? The Climate Crisis and the Human Condition. 

"When climate reality starts to get tough," said Hoggett, "you secure your borders, you secure your own sources of food and energy, and you keep out the rest of them. That's the politics of the armed lifeboat." 

What can be done to help?

As distressing and overpowering as this kind of research and prediction can seem, it's critical not to turn away from the climate crisis. 

"Not enough people care," said Peter Kalmus, a climate activist in California, to Inside Climate News. "I've been a climate activist since 2006. I've tried so many things, I've had so many conversations, and I still don't know what it will take for people to care." 

A transition away from dirty energy sources like coal and oil is also crucial, especially by those with power — billionaires, politicians, and CEOs — many of whom want to expand rather than retract their usage.

But every molecule matters, according to experts, and we can all do our part to reduce pollution on the individual level by driving and flying less, using public transportation and bicycling, and investing in clean energy in our homes.

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