The global temperature has increased by 1° Celcius above pre-industrial levels. This summer, record-breaking heat waves wreaked havoc in Japan, California, Greece, London, Madrid, Iberia and Sweden devastating millions of lives. Although many celebrate sunny days in Europe, worse than ever wildfires and drought, wasted crops and worsened health problems are some of the many disastrous consequences hot weather can have. Late summer typhoons ripped through Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern China. This October, Typhoon Jebi lashed Japan killing 11, injuring hundreds and stranding millions without power, tearing buildings and infrastructure. It is Japan’s most powerful storm in a quarter of a century.
This is not Mother Nature. The science is clear that man-made greenhouse gas is increasing the average temperature across the globe and this will bring more record-breaking extreme weather events and devastation. Humanity has become a force of nature and we cannot escape our negative impacts affecting all countries, our oceans and the wildest corners of our planet. Are you connecting the dots?
In the feature article ‘The NOW Guide to Disappearing Cultures’ we are raising consciousness about how we are wiping out the unique cultural diversity that have existed for thousands of years due to globalization, technology, climate change, a rapidly changing economic landscape and a certain type of tourism that has packaged cultures into see-able bites without sensitivity to their differences and needs.
Onno Poortier and I recently visited the wilderness of Mongolia, where the striking beauty and silence of nature meets endless space so vast that it links land and sky. Landlocked between China and Russia, Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world, where livestock outnumber people and a deep-rooted nomadic culture struggle to survive. Livestock is the primary source of income and food for nomadic families. In 2010, over eight million heads of livestock that live in the wild did not survive the extreme weather conditions, and drought in the last three years and more extreme cold temperatures as low as -50⁰ Celcius killed millions more. Today, half of the three million Mongol population that lost their livestock moved to the outskirts of Ulanbataar and they are struggling to meet their basic needs. They are also contributing to smog problems of Ulanbataar by burning coal and other pollutants to keep warm in winter with disastrous impact on people’s health, especially children. The loss of their livelihood and nomadic way of live is affecting their metal and emotional health resulting in serious social problems for the community.
We stayed at the Genghis Khan Polo & Riding Club, a beyond-the-expected summer retreat in a vast remoteness with purpose. Owned by the inspiring Giercke Family who brought the sport of polo back to Mongolia, it is their purpose to help secure the preservation of the traditional Mongolian nomadic culture and improve the quality of life for their Mongol family and community for a sustainable future.
At this most urgent of times, many of us live busy lives in a complex world and it’s easy to be distracted and loose our sense of self and purpose. Many of us are not conscious or seem to care that carbon emissions from our lifestyle, travel and by businesses worldwide are changing our climate and devastating the lives of millions in the wildest corners of our planet. I urge you to take the time to wander mindfully through the wilderness and connect with the place and its culture, its people and its spectacular nature. Then imagine loosing it because the carbonized lifestyle we live in cities worldwide impacts the climate in the wildest corners of our planet. The richness of our mind bogglingly spectacular global heritage is precious and we must do everything we can to protect it.
195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day2016, an agreement that sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below the dangerous 2° Celcius, and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5° Celcius. Today, it is 1° Celcius above pre-industrial levels and we are 0.5° Celsius (a half degree) away from reaching the limit. This is our short window of opportunity to act and lessen our carbon emissions.
The climate we are changing is the biggest issue of our time and it’s the rapid rate of change and the amount of man-made greenhouse gas carbon dioxide filling up the atmosphere that have scientists concerned. Global warming doesn’t just increase temperatures, it also threatens food, water, shelter, energy grids, the health of humans and all living creatures. Rising sea levels threaten low-lying destinations and make groundwater undrinkable, inundate coastal ecosystems, decimate local plant and wildlife populations, and increase migration. The travel industry is now the 5th largest polluter of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after China, USA, India and Russia.
In the spring of 2019, NOW is launching a Carbon Calculator and Offsetting tool in partnership with South Pole. The carbon footprint of our air travel is huge and the responsible choice is to stop airline travel. Or we can travel consciously and offset the carbon emissions of our air travel and stay in a hotel committed to sustainability. Connect the dots. It must be NOW!