Climate Future

We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a livable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming. I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries.

                                                ~ IPCC chair Hoesung Lee

It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F). Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.

                                                ~ IPCC Working Group III co-chair Jim Skea

According to the latest climate assessment by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, things are getting worse fairly quickly. Our inability to grasp and act on the climate changes humans have caused is making our future look dire, indeed. Writer Lloyd Alter quotes IPCC chair Hoesung Lee, “There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.” The view of the future is not totally dark, however, “the biggest potential at the lowest cost come from building out more wind and solar energy, followed closely by saving and replanting forests.”

The IPCC Report also prioritizes potential actions: “Individuals with high socio-economic status contribute disproportionately to emissions and have the highest potential for emissions reductions, e.g., as citizens, investors, consumers, role models, and professionals … These changes might include increased working from home, more walking and cycling, compact cities, and more efficient electric vehicles. In housing, there might be limits on floor area and radical improvements in buildings.”

It doesn’t sound like a new plan – in fact, not that much different from what Al Gore proposed in his 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth. But knowing what needs to be done and doing it are completely different things. And not acting will lead to all kinds of disaster.

Archeologist Chris Begley has assessed our future, “Any of the plausible scenarios for disaster, like unchecked climate change, will involve billions of survivors. We will find ourselves in large groups, in rapidly changing situations, and we will have to negotiate that. We will not escape the messiness of contemporary society. Any post-apocalyptic reality will not be a time machine to a mythical past we long for. It will not be a simpler, uncluttered life. We will not be able to run away. We will have to stay and fix things, and if we succeed, we may not recognize ourselves.”

“While the wilderness survival skills certainly can’t hurt, it will be empathy, generosity, and courage that we need to survive. Kindness and fairness will be more valuable than any survival skill. Then as now, social and leadership skills will be valued. We will have to work together. We will have to grow food, educate ourselves, and give people a reason to persevere.”

“Humans evolved attributes such as generosity, altruism, and cooperation because we need them to survive. Armed with those skills, we will turn towards the problem, not away from it. We will face the need, and we will have to solve it together. That is the only option. That’s what survival looks like.”

Survival sounds good to me. What say you?

Additional information:

Lloyd Alter, IPCC Report Is a Prescription for Fixing the Climate Crisis—It’s Now or Never, April 5, 2022, TreeHugger

Chris Begley, I Study Collapsed Civilizations. Here’s My Advice For A Climate Change Apocalypse. September 23, 2019 , Lexington Herald Leader

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