I’m not sure if the Ancient Greeks would deem our world a tragedy or a comedy. Our generation has inherited a world in distress. Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have littered our atmosphere at an alarming rate. Environmental decisions made by people long dead are imposing themselves upon those living in the 21st Century.
What convinces me that this is a tragedy in the Greek tradition is that those who have had contributed least to the scenario are the ones who stand to suffer the most. No matter which report you read, there is unanimous consensus that the world’s poorest people are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The rising sea level, drought, and extreme weather events like tropical cyclones and heat waves pose an existential threats to those living in poverty, in both rural and urban areas.
Yemen is already beginning to run out of freshwater. By the end of the century it is likely that 25% of Bangladesh, the most densely populated country on earth, will be underwater. California, a state that accounts for more than 13% of the US GDP, is being ravaged by drought and wildfires. Small island states like Kiribati, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu, may disappear entirely as their landmass continues to shrink due to climate change.
We have a moral responsibility to impede the impacts of climate change and adapt to the shifts that have already been set in motion. Unfortunately, by the time our generation will have the political authority to dictate the discussion, it may already be too late. It is estimated that if roughly 30% of existing oil reserves are burnt, enough greenhouse gases will have been emitted to push the globe over the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius, which is the theoretical amount of climate change civilization will be able to adapt to.
Somehow accepting the existence of climate change is still a topic of debate in the US. It’s asinine. In the Netherlands, Rotterdam is working day and night to prepare for potential flooding. Most of the city's landmass and population are below sea level; they understand that climate change is a serious threat.
Until we, as a generation, make our voices heard and refuse to vote for politicians who ignore the daunting reality of climate change, we will only continue to move closer to the brink.