It is absent of mind, yet there for every breath. It is weightless in our hands, yet carries our heft. It is without life, yet gives what it hath not for the steps we take. With every step, the air we break.
Breath, an act mandated to the subconscious for if it required active thought then we would think of nothing else. It is our first act and our last, and it fuels all acts in between. With each inward breath we introduce air into the body. The air then reacts at the molecular level to create the energy we require to live. But, after observing the circumstance of civilization, it is clear that the very actions that the air enables work against the air itself. And the consequences reach far beyond the composition of our breath.
On August 9, 2021, the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change issued its 6th assessment report to address the most advanced physical understanding of the climate system and climate change. At the heart of the report is the impact of human-driven CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions. As was done to prove that earth is round and not at the center of the universe, science and statistics were employed to develop findings on global warming that should now be considered fact. Principally, we must recognize that human activity has caused the dramatic increase in emissions of CO2 and CH4, which has led to a shift in the composition of the earth’s air. The elevated levels of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere have unequivocally led to heightened temperatures across the atmosphere, ocean, and land. And with these heightened temperatures has come increased variance in the global climate’s behavior, causing rising sea levels, temperature extremes, and weather aberrations. This variance poses a systemic risk to the future of mankind and our earth.
While alarming, there is hope. The report presents a scenario analysis that demonstrates that the effects of global warming going forward will be largely commensurate with the level of CO2 and CH4 emitted. In other words, the extent of global warming’s impacts is in our hands. By reducing our future emissions and sequestering the emissions previously released, we can ensure that the children of today can recognize and inhabit the earth of tomorrow.