To Mateo, who aged 8, worries about the state of the world.
Climate change has become something we hear about every day. The international press is granting it more and more coverage, and scientific research is granting it increasing attention. This is happening because what happens within the environment in the coming years will mean a radical change for human life and the different societies that populate the planet. Life as we know it is in danger of extinction. This is not a hypothesis, it is reality. In the past two years we have observed an abnormal increase in large-scale fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes. It is said that in the very near future hundreds of animal species will disappear, and that following the rise in sea levels, entire islands and peninsulas will be erased from the planet’s surface. This is the future foreseen by climate change scientists. If we do not halt our CO2 emissions, produced by petroleum and carbon, our main sources of energy, the temperature will keep increasing. However much we recycle or reduce our use of plastic, if emissions do not cease, disaster will be inevitable. Few topics cause so much unrest and disquiet. And the information that circulates is not always credible or reliable. For this reason, the Revista de la Universidad de México convened a group of scientists, environmentalists, reporters, anthropologists, and activists to write about it. With the essays, interviews, and infographics brought together here we hope to give the reader the chance to develop a clear view of the causes of this phenomenon, possible future scenarios, government policies, and the measures that must be taken by both citizens and legislators. We also invited poets like Antonio Deltoro, Maricela Guerrero and Jorge Gutiérrez Reyna, and artists and illustrators to complement all of this information with their incredibly personal visions on the subject. In their essays, Raúl Romero and Carlos Mondragón describe the reaction of indigenous communities in the face of a climate emergency. These communities, which are in much closer contact with nature than the inhabitants of cities, preserve ancestral knowledge that is very useful right now: for instance, how to restore, protect, and take care of ecosystems. It is of utmost importance, say these academics, that we seek their counsel. Another phenomenon, highlighted by the physicist José Edelstein, is the rebellion organized by children of various nationalities known as Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for Future. The youth is demanding—quite rightly—that we not ruin their home and that they inherit a safe environment to live in. Sandra Guzmán, a political scientist and environmentalist, describes how deaf the Mexican government is when it comes to the climate emergency, our dependence on oil and coal, as well as the absence of a national project that would allow us to renounce fossil fuels. We know that this will not be easy; for decades oil has been one of our main sources of income. But if this initiative does not come from the government, it is our responsibility to demand it, because even if all citizens adopted eco-friendly measures and more reasonable consumption habits in our daily lives, it would not be enough to stop the catastrophe. We also know how complicated it is to act collectively, and that it is easier to act as though nothing were happening. Lastly, we know that this situation is paralyzing and produces feelings of impotence, but now, more than ever, it is urgent that we organize ourselves. Dear reader, as overwhelming and depressing as this edition might prove to be for you, and even if you can already see the flames outside your window, do not allow yourself to be paralyzed. It is still possible to change the course of things, and there are plenty of people mobilizing themselves to achieve it.
Imagen de portada: Escala de colores que representa el aumento de la temperatura mundial de 1.35 °C entre 1850 y 2018. Con datos de la World Meteorological Organization.