Time to wake up to climate breakdown

George Clarke takes a scary look at the future

I’m sitting writing this in my shorts. Nothing else, just my shorts.

Why am I sharing this awful vision with you? Because at the time of writing it’s very hot. I’m at my desk at home and the temperature is 30 degrees. It’s been like this for days.

But, this isn’t just a random spike in temperatures for the UK. The entire planet experienced its hottest June ever on record, followed by the hottest July on record, breaking previous records by huge margins.

So many countries have been scorched and blistered by the frightening effects of global warming.

And for any climate-change deniers out there this excessive heat is absolutely caused by global warming and the negative impact our way of life is having on our incredibly unique planet.

We have not stopped burning fossil fuels so the planet is literally burning up.


We know this is wrong
What is really stupid is we know exactly what we are doing, we know this is going to have a terrible effect and may even threaten our existence, yet we still carry on doing it regardless of how bad things might be in our near future.

And what is even more stupid is we know what we need to do to turn things around to limit or prevent global warming, yet we choose not to do these things at scale or at a fast enough pace.

Why? Because people say we cannot afford to do it.

What? Really? We cannot afford to stop destroying the planet and avoid the horrific suffering of billions of people?

Warning signs for all
Data from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), showed that August was about 1.5˚C warmer than the preindustrial average for 1850 to 1900.

It has had a frightening effect on the planet this summer with heatwaves, fires and floods hitting so many countries.

These are not only terrible tragedies that destroy towns, villages, lives and livelihoods, but they are warning signs to us all.

The extreme heatwaves that impacted most of Europe and North America are said to have been 2.0 - 2.5˚C hotter because of
climate change.

These worrying changes are not only having a detrimental effect on land, but at sea too. Our seas and oceans have been especially hot in recent months. This is affecting marine life, it is accelerating the melting of ice caps and will cause sea levels to rise at a faster rate than predicted.


A dangerous arrogance
What makes me so angry is there is an arrogance about the human race that I find staggeringly dangerous.

We think we are strong and powerful and in control of the planet and that we know exactly what we are doing. We think we can handle whatever is thrown at us.
I think the complete opposite. I don’t think we are strong at all.

Mother Nature can be extremely beautiful, but she can be extremely brutal too and we don’t stand a chance in any fight with her. We are overcooking Planet Earth, our collective home, and I worry that is going to come at a severe cost.

Start at home
It’s interesting to talk about ‘home’ at this point.

Yes, Planet Earth is our collective home we all share together, but sometimes it’s hard for us to really see and understand the effects of climate change on our shared home, because so many of the awful disasters that occur are happening far away from where we live.

Unless you experience a flood, a hurricane, or a major forest fire first hand it’s hard to fully understand just how devastating and horrific they can be.

Yes, we see them on tv, but we’re so detached from the reality of events and it can feel like we’re watching a disaster movie.

So, let’s think differently and literally bring it all home.

I don’t mean to scare you, but I’m sitting here in my own home imagining what my ‘climate-changed house’ would look like in a ‘climate-changed street’ and it absolutely frightens the life out of me.

Fire and floods
My home often floods now on the ground floor and I’m often up to my waist in water. Putting up water defences during the storms takes up a lot of time. I’m relieved when the water levels recede. But I know they’ll be back.


When the searing heat kicks in, everything dries out to the point where my once damp floors and walls begin to crack and become structurally unstable. My home can’t handle the extremes.

All my beautiful plants and trees in my garden have been dead for some time now. I can’t remember if they drowned in the floods or were devastated by the heat.  All the trees on my street are dead too. I loved seeing trees, but they are scarce now.

The air in my house is thick with pollution to the point where some days it’s a struggle to breathe.

There is very little clean drinking water. I’m thirsty most days. Water is polluted after years of contamination and greed by the water companies. It’s worse when the floods come because sewage mixes with the clean water we’ve tried to harvest.

Speaking of harvest, there’s little food at the shops as farmers struggle to grow anything in the extreme heat and with little irrigation. It’s either too wet or too dry and hot.

The global supply chains have collapsed. I’m hungry most days as I struggle to grow my own food as farmers can’t provide for us all.

We have very few clothes because we can’t grow the materials needed to make them. Cotton disappeared from the earth a few years ago now. Man-made fabrics are hard to come by too as the economy has collapsed.

My home used to be my little slice of paradise in our collective ‘planet-earth home’, which was once beautiful, green, plentiful and covered in wonderful nature.

After greedy humans took it for granted, neglected it, polluted it, and ignored the warning signs, my home is now hell on a scorched and ruined Earth.

Ok. This may sound dramatic and absolutely awful – like an extreme Mad-Max film.
You might even think it sounds far-fetched and that I’m scaremongering.

But, hand-on-heart I honestly don’t think I am. When I see what damage we are causing the planet and the frightening pace at which we are destroying it, I don’t think we are many more generations away from creating a world and a ‘home’ similar to the horrific picture I’ve painted above.

I don’t mean to frighten or scare you, but I do want us all to wake up to what is happening.

This summer is a massive warning sign.

To ignore it or become complacent is a gamble we can’t afford to take.

I’ll leave you with this quote from UN secretary general, António Gutierrez in the last few weeks.

“Our planet has just endured a season of simmering  - the hottest summer on record. Climate breakdown has begun. Scientists have long warned what our fossil fuel addiction would unleash. Our climate is imploding faster than we can cope with, with extreme weather events hitting every corner of the planet.”

George Clarke is an architect, writer, TV presenter and Ecodan Ambassador
This article and other blog’s by George Clarke appear regularly on Mitsubishi Electric’s The Hub, visit les.mitsubishielectric.co.uk/the-hub

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