The Burning Question called Climate Change

Author: Armin Tufo

If you have followed the news in the past few days, the chance is that you have heard about natural disasters rampaging through countries like Turkey and Greece, Germany, and Belgium, or perhaps parts of the U.S. News coverage on the state of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural reminders of the human footprint left on our only home, Earth, has become not so new. What has, on the other hand, been actual in the media is the report of the UN-mandated body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and its three “Working Groups,” addressing various aspects pertaining to climate change, coming together in the production of the said report, titled The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). 


Set up in 1988, and with universal membership, the IPCC has for its main role to advise policymakers and governments, supply the policymaking process, and consult the large body of scientific publications in the production of Assessment Reports, arriving at a profound understanding of climate change, based on thousands of citations from the scientific community. The IPCC also released a brochure with the most frequently asked questions in 2014, containing scientific evidence of global warming, rising sea levels, and changes in the Earth’s water cycle, all contributed to by human activity. Although there exists the “internal variability”—climate variability regardless of humans— the IPCC has identified “human-caused forcings” (such as greenhouse gases) responsible for rising global temperatures.


It is all caused by humans


“A rise in global average surface temperatures is the best-known indicator of climate change. Although each year and even decade is not always warmer than the last, global surface temperatures have warmed substantially since 1900.” – The IPCC

A graph showing the rising of global temperatures with and without human factors (BBC, 2021).

In the light of fires, floods, droughts, and other increasingly extreme weather events taking thousands of lives across Europe and elsewhere, the IPCC produced their newest report with even more grim predictions about our not-so-distant future. Referred to as “code red for humanity”, the report established that the world temperatures have, in fact, risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius, with a possibility of rising by 1.5 degrees between 2026 and 2052. The worrying predictions include heavy rainfalls, droughts, the extinction of certain plant and insect species, and the near-complete disappearance of coral reefs, as reported by VICE. Not all is lost, however, as the Working Group I reported that the reduction of CO2 emissions, which would limit climate change, would result in the stabilization of global temperatures in the next 20-80 years. 


Such reduction in gas emissions could be our only way to prevent the rising of temperatures above the 1.5 degrees threshold. An impediment here is the fact that the majority of countries aren’t on track to meet this goal, possibly evoking irreversible effects on the climate. What’s also interesting is that the world’s 20 companies—many of which are state-owned—focused on fossil fuel exploitation, create 30% of the world’s emissions, among which are Saudi Arabian Aramco, Russian Gazprom, American Chevron, and ExxonMobil, to name a few. The main culprits are fossil fuel companies—not individuals—situated in Western industrialized nations, except for India and China, whose carbon emissions have been skyrocketing, especially so in the case of China, accounting for more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The correlation between the emissions of the "Top 20” companies and the total CO2 emissions (The Guardian, 2019).

Climate battle is not lost yet 


Of course, the reality, however tough it may be, is not all-so-bleak. Governments attuned to science around the world have been listening and making moves beneficial for the reduction of fossil fuel consumption, implementing policies such as the European Union’s Green Deal Policy, aimed at making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The Deal includes other EU initiatives such as the European Climate Law and the European Climate Pact, targeting greenhouse emissions and promoting awareness on climate change, respectively. The Green Deal envisions the smooth transfer from fossil fuels to sustainable industries, solar panel installation, and other “Just Transition Mechanisms” set up to ensure the transition and lower the negative impact caused by loss of jobs in certain industries deemed as environmentally unfriendly. The world’s biggest polluter, China, has also made moves towards clean energy, leading in total solar power capacity and increasingly shifting its gear to electric cars. 


Countries investing in public transport, adhering to the 2016 Paris Agreement, saving forests, etc., have been ranked high by the Climate Change Performance Index—Sweden, Denmark, Morocco—whilst those relying on cars, industrial farming, and deforestation have been ranked very low on the list—Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA. Although the biggest portion of negative climate change factors is attributable to companies and the heavy industry, individuals can make better-informed decisions regarding their purchasing habits, including consuming fewer items with the biggest carbon footprint—beef, lamb, chocolate—and switching over to food such as beans and nuts. The same idea can be applied over to technology, clothes, and other aspects of individuals’ lives, where donating, repurposing, and repairing should take the fore, instead of replacing and purchasing new items.


Climate change in Bosnian media landscape 


Lastly, in terms of domestic BiH media outlets, the topic of climate change and the IPCC report seems to have been given relatively adequate coverage. The aforementioned natural disasters were occupying central news channels and online portals, containing both episodic and thematic news telling, informing the citizens on the current situation regarding those evacuated, injured, or those who lost their lives or property, as well as pointing to the clear connection between extreme weather events and climate change. Certain news channels dedicated even special shows to discuss the effects of climate change and the intensification of natural disasters observed in Germany, Belgium and other places. 


Meteorologists talked about the Assessment Report and offered their analyses in terms of rising temperatures noted on mountains like Bjelasnica but also in terms of a lower number of cold days across 10 years. It was also added that droughts and floods present themselves as a higher risk for Bosnia and Herzegovina, with adverse effects on tourism, most notably during the winter season. News anchors expressed concerns about the lack of public awareness on the impact of climate change, calling upon officials and representatives from bodies such as the EU to take the role of leadership and assume higher responsibility. As of writing this article, BiH is facing the dangers associated with fires in the southern region of Herzegovina, threatening the people but also endemic species on the mountain Cvrsnica. Speedy action and utilization of Armed Forces’ helicopters are lacking due to political opposition of one member of the Presidency and it remains to be witnessed how this uncertain situation will be taken care of.