Today (15 August 2021) the New York Times published an editorial titled “Finding the Will to Stave Off a Darker Future”. A short quote gives the tenor of the article: “We knew, three decades ago, about global warming and its consequences. We suspected, even then, that the potentially catastrophic future forecast in the IPCC’s latest report, released on Monday — a report the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, called a “code red for humanity” — could well come to pass.
The IPCC report referred to is the 6th Assessment Report, (AR6) which was widely reported and commented on around the world.
On 25 July the Guardian published “Plans of four G20 states are threat to global climate pledge – ‘Disastrous’ energy policies of China, Russia, Brazil and Australia could stoke 5C rise in temperatures if adopted by the rest of the world”
None of this comes as a surprise to anyone interested in the Environmental Crisis. At the same time we are flooded with more immediate news; The Taliban are in Kabul, Haiti had an earthquake to be followed by a tropical storm, Mediterranean Europe, Siberia and the US west suffer from fires and droughts, other places from floods. Covid19 is getting out of hand again.
Is there still some hope of action? Probably. Just as we knew the dangers at least 30 years ago, so we also knew the solutions. With technology improvements we have even more options now.
But, as with Covid, denial, doubt, appeals to rights and freedoms, and deference to “The Economy” persist.
Somehow we think the biosphere (or the Covid virus) cares about us. It does not. It just is. Our actions produce predictable reactions from the biosphere (and the virus).
If we mask, keep physical distance and vaccinate the virus becomes a manageable problem. If we claim “exemptions” the virus spreads and in spreading gives time for mutations, some of which become more of a problem for us.
If we keep pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, if we keep polluting, over-consuming, over-fishing, over-logging then the biosphere reacts in a predictable manner. Tipping points are part of that predictability.
We must stop. It is up to us to ensure we have the political and corporate leaders who can make that happen in an equitable manner. No matter which actions we choose as individuals, nations or corporations, the biosphere does not respect any exemptions. None. Not freedom, rights, religions, nationality, paternal wisdom, economic wealth or hardship. It just is and does.
I guess we will see in early November, at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021 if we have the will to stave off a darker future.
Then on 8 November 2022 (one short year after COP26) the US elections will tell us if the USA will play a meaningful part in keeping the biosphere hospitable for us.
As the U.S.’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry has to comment on something like IPCC AR6. I caught a short interview with him on NPR (the 7 minute audio and a transcript are at How John Kerry Hopes To Combat Climate Change)
My key take-aways:
- We have to do something – major, now. Just how this meshes with the moderate Democrat administration’s wish to also keep oil and gas supplies cheap and not impose any economic hardship on anybody remains unexplained.
- The private sector is ahead of the government in moving to renewables and planning for the inevitable changes coming to the biosphere.
- China is doing things to meet climate change. We can’t use China as an excuse to stall action on our part. I actually believe that China will become the world leader in battling climate change. We may not like their methods but the results will be there. I base this belief on some, albeit scant, experience:
- The Chinese leadership, governmental and corporate, is technologically sophisticated and takes a long term view. (Unlike the US continual election cycle and quarterly number focus)
- China will do whatever is in China’s (i.e. the Han Chinese) interest. Clearly a degraded biosphere is not in their interest (I guess that’s a tautology; it’s not in anybody’s interest)
- Given their style of government, once decisions are made there will be no exceptions; rights of individuals and companies will be sacrificed for the greater good.
What’s the 1bio story? Keep going, be active, hold our leaders accountable.