“ ADULTS KEEP SAYING WE OWE IT TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE, TO GIVE THEM HOPE, BUT I DON’T WANT YOUR HOPE. I WANT YOU TO PANIC. I WANT YOU TO ACT AS IF THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE, BECAUSE IT IS.” – GRETA THUNBERG
There are many reasons why Greta Thunberg took over the global media in 2019, but it was her candid words, full of frustration and brutal honesty, that inspired the younger generation to take up arms against climate change alongside this teenage Swedish activist. In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we discuss the most pressing concern of our generation and how we, as scientists and innovators, can contribute to a healthier and greener world. We encourage our readers to consider climate change not only as a political or scientific issue, but as an existential threat to our homes and lives.
We begin this issue with the latest statistics on climate change (p. 8), followed by the global government and private initiatives currently tackling the issue (p. 10). Next, we discuss the extent to which climate change affects our lives, from physical (p. 12) and psychological health (p. 13) to the food we eat (p. 14) and our daily habits (p. 15). Climate change has entered the political and economic spheres as well, and we touch briefly upon these as we consider the “Greta effect” (p. 18), Elon Musk’s space exploration initiatives (p. 20), and Canada’s waste management policies (p. 21). Closer to home, we as immunologists inevitably contribute to the problem (p. 24), yet we can also act now to be part of the solution (p. 25). Finally, as part of our new initiative to broaden the scope of IMMpress, we close with a review of Elizabeth Kolbert’s best-selling book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (p. 31).
Starting off the new decade with a pandemic of such unprecedented scale is not something any of us could have foreseen. As with COVID-19, climate change knows no borders. Unlike the pandemic, however, climate change is a long-term threat and thus requires a long-term, coordinated global effort that must start now. A wise man once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” We can act now.
As always, we would like to thank our amazing team of writers, designers, and editors for their hard work and continued commitment, particularly in light of the current situation. In addition, we warmly welcome our new writers and designers, with whom we hope to continue working and expanding the scope of IMMpress. We are also extremely grateful for the healthcare workers, researchers, and essential workers who risk their lives day and night during these difficult times. We hope our readership will enjoy this issue with optimism and inspiration in mind. Finally, please stay safe and healthy!