The atmosphere, like the skin of any organism, protects and nourishes this living planet. It protects against cosmic radiation, to which life is very sensitive; regulates the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect; allows the circulation of nutrients and other natural elements; is part of the water cycle; and is the layer where we and many other living things live, develop, reproduce, and evolve. Therefore, suddenly, the atmosphere is no longer something that is up there or outside, but it is the medium that keeps us alive.
“Let’s go and play outside” is an expression that is used less and less in children’s talk. Safety, a lack of adequate spaces and a large amount of digital stimuli are some of the potential reasons. However, playing outside may be something that will become more difficult in the future, but for different reasons. By emitting large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, as well as other pollutants that have harmful and long-lasting effects, we are directly modifying the structure and dynamics of this layer. We know that although CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) were virtually banned in 1995 (with a few exceptions), the hole in the ozone layer will only recover to 1980 levels by the middle of this century (1). Greenhouse gases, because they are considered more “natural”, may not be taken so seriously. Recent news warns that the planet will change into a state of planetary equilibrium called Hothouse Earth for several thousand years (2). There are some observable indications that the atmosphere is not “healthy” for human survival and development due to the increase in the number and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods caused by rain, hurricanes and heatwaves among others. (3)
“We are the ones we have been waiting for” is an expression used to call us to action now. There is much that can and must be done at international, national, regional and local levels. Individually we can take on the commitment both with ourselves and future generations to greatly decrease our carbon footprint by reducing consumerism (beyond what is necessary) and our journeys and travel (including holidays to unique and vulnerable far-off places). We can harmonise our diet to one that is in effect omnivorous (or even vegan), whose production and consumption is regenerative and local. On the other hand, we must, we have, and I believe we even want to increase our “carbon handprint” as a positive concept and complement to the “carbon footprint”. Our “handprint” may take into account our individual well-being (potentially the source of most of the imbalances observed), the renewal of the family unit and community centre with their healthy dynamics (which naturally protect their territory and environment) and other things such as planting trees and nurturing their growth and development. It is important to become citizens who are active in the defence of their territory, their well-being and their continuity, in communion with the rest of Life in its evolutionary process.
The truth is that we are “live” and we are all reporters and principle actors in this reality which we are observing and co-creating.
We are in the Air !!!
Climate change: ‘Hothouse Earth’ risks even if CO2 emissions slashed https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-45084144
You can find out more about the climatic scenarios for several Portuguese municipalities at: http://climadapt-local.pt/fichas-climaticas/