It is safe to say no challenge presents a more dire threat to future generations than climate change. If you have ever wondered how much time the world has left to take action before climate change becomes irreversible, well, a literal doomsday clock ticking down to the exact second is here to tell you.
On the afternoon of September 20, the ‘Climate Clock’ was unveiled by climate activists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd. Found in Manhattan, New York, the digital clock displays the precise amount of time left to decrease our greenhouse emissions and provide the Earth with a 60% chance of staying below the dreaded 1.5 degrees of warming. It is dreaded because going over 1.5 degrees for starters, will put millions more at risk of possibly life-threatening heatwaves and poverty. Entire ecosystems across the world relying on coral reefs will have their habitats wiped out. Seas will continue to swallow even more of our cities through flooding.
To give a better understanding of our current predicament, the clock features two numbers. The first, displayed in red, is known as the ‘deadline.’ This timer counts down the amount of time it will take for the world to go over its carbon budget (the total amount of carbon dioxide emissions permitted overtime to maintain a temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius). Unless we take immediate action to prevent the Earth’s temperatures reaching above 1.5 degrees Celsius, the planet will experience extreme heatwaves, intense fires, severe droughts, and limited water availability, according to a 2019 NASA report.
The clock’s second figure, shown in green, is called the ‘lifeline.’ It displays the percentage of the world’s energy generated from renewable sources. Ultimately, the goal is to get the lifeline to 100% before the deadline reaches zero. With these numbers, the creators Andrew Boyd and Gan Golan seek to share a message both clear and urgent: If the Earth wants an opportunity for survival, reducing carbon emissions is the key. As of today, Monday, September 25, the deadline read: 7 years, 94 days, 14 hours, 12 minutes, and 6 seconds. That means we have seven years to give the Earth a fighting chance. Now, although our planet has a worrying deadline, we have the power to transform it into a lifetime.
In an interview with CBS, Boyd spoke about taking the initiative and finding solutions as soon as possible. “You can’t negotiate with reality,” he said. “You can’t negotiate with science. Scientists are telling us that the next seven years are crucial to the fate of the Earth and humanity.” As stated, the climate crisis is an issue we can no longer ignore. We cannot leave this problem for future generations to face. Before children born today finish primary school, the damage will already be permanent.
In closing, climate change is happening here, and it is happening now. Regardless of how daunting overcoming this problem may seem, it is up to us to take action because we might just be the last generation who can do something about it. As Barack Obama once said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."