In the largest river basin in the world, there is a shortage of drinking water. In the largest rainforest on the planet, it is difficult to breathe the air. This is life in the Amazon in the extreme drought of 2023. We wake up and go to bed with the smell of burning, which seeps through the body, the clothes, the sheets. The solar panels do not charge because the smoke from the fires is blocking the sun’s rays. Entire neighborhoods have been without water for days. Some days, one of our friends or neighbors falls into depression, and we have to encourage them to get out of bed. Other days, the same thing happens to ourselves. For those living on the front lines of the war against nature, the only thing that’s clear when smoke has blocked the sight of the horizon is that we are witnessing the end of the world. Scientific articles point out that what we are feeling in our bodies is proven by science: the climate crisis may be accelerating, and the threat to existence is worse than our bleakest projections.
In the report The 2023 State of the Climate Report: Entering Uncharted Territory, by researchers from several countries, the authors state: “Life on planet Earth is under siege. We are now in an uncharted territory. For several decades, scientists have consistently warned of a future marked by extreme climatic conditions because of escalating global temperatures caused by ongoing human activities that release harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, time is up. We are seeing […] a situation no one has ever witnessed firsthand in the history of humanity.”
The report concludes: “As scientists, we are increasingly being asked to tell the public the truth about the crises we face in simple and direct terms. The truth is that we are shocked by the ferocity of the extreme weather events in 2023. We are afraid of the uncharted territory that we have now entered. Conditions are going to get very distressing and potentially unmanageable for large regions of the world, with the 2.6°C warming expected over the course of the century […] We warn of potential collapse of natural and socioeconomic systems in such a world where we will face unbearable heat, frequent extreme weather events, food and fresh water shortages, rising seas, more emerging diseases, and increased social unrest and geopolitical conflict. Massive suffering due to climate change is already here, and we have now exceeded many safe and just Earth system boundaries, imperiling stability and life-support systems.”
While the warnings pile up, in Brazil, President Lula is supporting opening another oil exploitation front in the Amazon; COP28 is set to begin in Saudi Arabia amid deep misgivings that any progress will be made; and the world is witnessing another devastating war between humans. I can only apologize in vain to all the animals, plants and fungi that are burning to death, many in excruciating pain, in the jungle that burns around me. They do not deserve a scourge like the human species.
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