The figures from the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) certainly inspire gloom.
95% certainty that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases resulting from human activity.
2 degrees C the maximum rise possible before ” dangerous climate change”
0.85 degrees C global warming experienced from 1880 to 2012.
14 out of 15 of the warmest years on record have occurred since the turn of the century.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report paints a picture of doom identifying a high risk of
- Death, injury, ill health and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones due to storm surges, coastal flooding and sea level rise.
- Extreme weather events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services
- Warming, drought, flooding and precipitation variability leading to food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems
- Insufficient access to drinking water and irrigation and reduced agricultural activity. It is not surprising that many people respond to this gloom and doom scenario with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and an unwillingness to believe it but if we do not make rapid changes in the way we live on this planet it is the best guess to our relatively short term future. Some of the best examples of a fast transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy ( Germany, Denmark ) have been achieved largely outside of national government or big business via a decentralized model involving local government, co-operatives and farmers helping to create a sustainable local economy where the community shares the economic benefits. Unsurprisingly these changes were met with little resistance because those communities could see how they would be better off. We can all choose to do something according to our circumstances. Perhaps most importantly we can all demonstrate to our elected representatives that we believe climate change is the most important crisis we face, it is increasingly urgent that we find solutions and we will not accept them being part of the problem. With the climate negotiations in Paris nearly upon us it might be useful to revisit the United Nations
- “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation”
- Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of 23 years ago to try and gauge the rate of political progress we have made thus far.
- If we have money we can make choices as investors and consumers to support businesses that recognise the reality of our situation, operate accordingly and pay their taxes and we can boycott those who don’t. If we have time we can find ways to reduce our carbon footprint, share our ideas and support local initiatives to protect our natural environment.
- There are numerous examples around the world of people rejecting the hopelessness scenario and working as a community to successfully develop ways of protecting and improving their way of life without drastically increasing the burden on our planet. They then have a more stable local economy and no longer feel helpless.
- The biggest obstacle to these changes is not a lack of ideas or technologies but the almost universally accepted belief that we need a constantly growing global economy to implement them. Not true!