The wildfires in the U.S.’ northwestern states, primarily California, incontrovertibly deepen concerns that man-made climate change leads to dire consequences. Even half a degree increase in temperatures aggravates everyday life and waters down the tolerance of our forests, our cities.
In pre-industrial societies, the impacts of natural disasters remained local. However, that is not the case anymore, and global warming, its threats and dangers are now becoming global. This is where the “butterfly effect” comes into play. To put it simply, the entire human race is in grave danger.
Last month we were discussing the extraordinary rain-showers in the U.S., Northern Europe, China and in our country, too, as well as the flash floods it brought on and other natural phenomena. In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou of the Henan state, “once in a millennium” rainfalls devastated the region. With rivers overflowing and the city submerged in water, over 60 people died, and close to 100,000 were evacuated. The scale of the disaster was deemed “extraordinarily high.” The California wildfires, on the other hand, were the third largest blazes in the state’s history.
The fundamental reason for the heartbreaking wildfires gripping our country’s south has everything to do with global warming, no doubt. The increase in temperature, the drying of the land and vegetation, and to add insult to injury, heavy winds have only rendered our forests more susceptible to fires. As in the U.S., the winds changing direction was a factor that exponentially exacerbated the blazes. It was also revealed that some forest fires in the U.S. were caused by faulty power lines. Another reason is lightning strikes. Human negligence only adds fuel to an already sensitive situation; deliberate acts, however, are in the line of work of Turkey’s security forces.
Mother Nature keeps on sending us subsequent warnings that the danger is at the door. Climate change is now an incontrovertible truth of our world. We need to consciously grasp this truth. Governments need to up their game and awareness in the face of wildfires, floods and other possible disasters. The cost of institutional negligence is very grave indeed.
Parties expressing their views on the nature of climate change, which is the greatest threat to humanity’s future, unanimously agree that human actions have led to this change. They only diverge on whether the danger is “imminent” or not. Some scientific ambiguities don’t detract from the imminent dangers posed by global warming. Of course we need to be ready for the worst-case scenario. Precautions need to be effective, and perspectives sharp.
Even though individual efforts do carry weight in diminishing the impacts of climate change, they are not enough. The actions of states and institutions are much more important in the sense that a global threat can only be countered with joint global actions. The biggest source of global warming is fossil fuel industries. According to a U.S. study, approximately 100 fossil fuel firms are responsible for two-thirds of carbon emissions inducing climate change. Hence, the whole of humanity suffers from carbon emissions. Those impudently profiting cannot burden the everyday man with the consequences of global warming.
Following the Ice Age, a new climate age called the "Holocene" was ushered in. The invention of the steam engine in the 19th century and the subsequent start of the Industrial Age radically altered the relationship of human actions with nature. The last 300 years are characterized as Anthropocene, the "Human Age," due to humanity’s negative interventions in nature. After 1945, the globalization of industrialization only increased. All these developments also changed geological time scales. On the other hand, we are in the “age of speed.” Humanity and economic, financial and technological systems have never been more interwoven. We are in a web of associations with both positive and negative connotations. We bear the brunt of the “danger and solution” together. The Covid-19 epidemic is the most striking example of this global danger and solution. Man's conquest of nature may be an admirable development for the evolution of human intelligence, but it may also be humanity’s undoing.