The prevailing environmental situation is one of the most important challenges that humanity has to face. The disturbance of the ecological balance of the natural ecosystem as a result of reckless, unintended and unorthodox overconsumption of the planet’s natural resources, has created a threat against the sustainability of the planet, the most urgent of them being the change of the climate and a consistent loss of biodiversity in many regions of the earth.
The rise in average temperatures of the atmosphere, the land and the oceans, which is being observed at an alarming rate since the mid-20th century, has led to a wide range of catastrophic consequences in many parts of the world, rendering the situation difficult to be reversed.
- Global warming and the melting of the "everlasting" ice, concentrated at the poles, is causing sea levels to rise
- The over-concentration of gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, have created the greenhouse effect.
Consequences which are the outcome of human intervention and of the overexploitation of the planet’s natural resources, contributing to a wide range of extreme weather events.
Catastrophic floods and a number of increasing hurricanes threaten coastal areas and islands in Africa and Southeast Asia. At the same time, rising temperatures are causing dehydration, systemic fires and the destruction of vast forests, with the most devastating being the recent series of wildfires in Siberia, the Amazon and Australia. The results of the staggering imbalance of ecosystems and the desertification of such vital areas, are incalculable for the global climate and life on the planet. The mass migration of populations as a consequence of environmental disasters is one of them.
In Greece, the high temperatures that prevailed in December 2020 (average minimum night temperature 11.7 ° C), as well as the first ten days of January 2021, marked the highest temperature record of the last 160 years for Athens, according to the National Athens Observatory (EEC) collecting data since 1860. Global warming and human intervention in combination with the fiery Mediterranean environment of Greece are the main causes of the systematic existence of fires, which has devastating consequences on the ecosystem, on the economy of the affected areas and on human lives.
Data has shown that over the last 2,000 years, overheating has been unprecedented and on a scientific level, an existing consensus of over 99% confirms that humans are causing this phenomenon. Historically, the countries of North America and Europe are the ones responsible for polluting the atmosphere having contributed to the emission of half of all carbon dioxide since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. All remaining countries are responsible for the other half with the poorer countries contributing to the least amount of pollution. The consequences are extremely adverse for the people living in these countries who are called to face many and difficult problems for their survival.
The important thing is that the world community as a whole believes that it is not too late and that there is time to stop climate change as long as there is systematic action.
Preventing biodiversity loss to maintain global sustainability has been identified as an urgent challenge for climate change.
The variety of different species of animals, plants and microorganisms are an indicator of nature's health, as healthy and balanced ecosystems with thriving biodiversity maintain the climate at tolerable levels and are more resistant to the creation and spread of viruses and infectious diseases.
Scientific studies, such as that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), warn that the risk of pandemics is rapidly increasing and emphasize that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, is the sixth pandemic in a row that has been caused as a result of human activity. The cause; The massive loss of biodiversity due to the destruction of wildlife habitats. Deforestation, illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife consumption are all possible sources of new viral infections in humans, experts say, as our activities bring us closer and closer to pathogens and viruses, which could then easily spread worldwide.
According to the WWF's Living Planet 2020 report, the planet's wildlife populations have dropped by an average of 68% in the last 56 years, which has negatively affected the climate. For example, deforestation increases the atmospheric emission of carbon dioxide, which contributes dramatically to the greenhouse effect.
- More than three-quarters of planet earth has already been severely degraded by human activity, according to IPBES experts.
- One third of the earth's surface and three-quarters of the planet's fresh water are now absorbed by agriculture while the use of human resources has increased by 80% in just three decades.
- The challenges of this pandemic underscore the importance of protecting and rehabilitating the world's most important and common environmental life support systems.
"By maintaining what is left of biodiversity and managing wildlife-rich areas in a sustainable manner, we can prevent catastrophic diseases before it is too late."
International Agreements on Sustainable Development
There are many human activities and interventions that intensify trends and phenomena that threaten the viability of our planet. The international community is taking action by signing agreements that ensure the protection of the environment with a focus on sustainable development on a wide range of issues related to human existence and action.
The international community took an historic decision at the UN General Assembly in September 2015 in the face of global concerns regarding the aforementioned development. It is the adoption of 17 goals, known as the "Sustainable Development Goals", which express the current global challenges, in an effort to effectively mobilize all countries and citizens towards the confrontation of these problems.
In this global agreement, more than 190 leaders, representing almost all of humanity, are committed to transforming our world into a world free of poverty, hunger and inequality. A world with decent work and good education, peaceful without the threat of climate change, a world that through the principles of sustainable development, will take care of the needs not only of the current generation but also of future generations.
Also, internationally important is the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, known as COP21, the first universal, legally binding global agreement on tackling climate change signed in 2016 by 195 countries.
The European Union with the European Green Agreement, published in December 2019, launches a new development strategy aimed at transforming the economy and society towards a more sustainable course and climate neutrality by 2050, transferring significant financial resources to the so-called Transition Mechanism.
Citizens' mobilizations to deal with the climate crisis
In recent years, more and more people around the world, realizing and experiencing the effects of climate change, are mobilizing in many different ways to deal with it.
A new generation of activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who instigated the Fridaysforfuture movement, is demanding "climate justice" by projecting the moral and political dimension of the problem of global warming. By linking environmental to social justice, they denounce the injustice that is taking place as the least responsible for climate change, the most vulnerable and poorest people in the South, are the ones who suffer the worst consequences!
It is worth mentioning the data of the United Nations as they give a picture of the attitude of young people towards the climate crisis:
- Nearly half a million of young people around the world have taken action on climate change through small grants.
- 84% of young people surveyed agree that they need more information to prevent climate change.
- About 73% of young people surveyed say they are currently feeling the effects of climate change.
- About 89% of young people who respond say that young people can make a difference in climate change.
- Only 9% of young people are very confident that people will act fast enough to tackle climate change.
Collective and coordinated efforts to tackle Climate Change with young people at the forefront:
- By giving young people the platform and the motivation, we can mobilize them to become the beginning of a coordinated effort to combat the environmental crisis.
- Young people, through their sense of challenge, have historically proven to be at the forefront of every technological, industrial and social revolution.
- They have the ideas, creativity, flexibility and energy to change the world and lead to another revolution, the environmental one.
- They are ready, if given the spark, the opportunity and the reason, to undertake the formation of the future, a future that rightfully belongs to them.
The position of young people in the present and in the future
Young people have always upset existing balances and supported change. The existing socio-political, economic and technological conditions create problems that we are critical of, creating a safe space for young people to express themselves and further develop their skills and abilities.
More specifically we observe:
- A significant percentage of young people today are either unemployed or not even looking for a job, while at the same time not attending any education or training program, belonging to the category of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training).
The habits of young people show that on average:
- A young person spends 3 hours a day on social networking platforms, while 9 hours a day in the digital world,
- 60% of people over the age of 15 in the European Union do not exercise or rarely exercise.
- People between the ages of 19 and 32 who use social media more often are three times more likely to feel socially isolated than those who do not use it as often.
- A percentage of 14% of young people aged between 15 and 34 live outside of a social network,
- About 15% of young people have mental health problems.
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