Climate Change

[News]Opinion | Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It. – The New York Times

Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It. <www.nytimes.com/2018/10/06/opinion/sunday/climate-change-global-warming.html>
It begins with how we live our lives every moment of every day.
By Auden Schendler and Andrew P. Jones
Mr. Schendler is a climate activist and businessman. Mr. Jones creates climate simulations for the nonprofit Climate Interactive.
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Image CreditCreditClaire Merchlinsky
On Monday, the world’s leading climate scientists are expected to release a report on how to protect civilization by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Given the rise already in the global temperature average, this critical goal is 50 percent more stringent than the current target of 2 degrees Celsius, which many scientists were already skeptical we could meet. So we’re going to have to really want it, and even then it will be tough.
The world would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than has ever been achieved, and do it everywhere, for 50 years. Northern European countries reduced emissions about 4 to 5 percent per year in the 1970s. We’d need reductions of 6 to 9 percent. Every year, in every country, for half a century.
We’d need to spread the world’s best climate practices globally — like electric cars in Norway, energy efficiency in California, land protection in Costa Rica, solar and wind power in China, vegetarianism in India, bicycle use in the Netherlands.
We’d face opposition the whole way. To have a prayer of 1.5 degrees Celsius, we would need to leave most of the remaining coal, oil and gas underground, compelling the Exxon Mobils and Saudi Aramcos to forgo anticipated revenues of over $33 trillion over the next 25 years.
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And while the air would almost immediately be cleaner and people healthier, the heartbreaking impacts of climate change — flooding in London, New York and Shanghai, as well as in Mumbai, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Alexandria, Egypt; and Jakarta, Indonesia, to touch on just one consequence — would continue for decades, regardless of emissions cuts, because of the long life of man-made greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.
Some cynical news headlines will certainly follow the report: “Scientists Agree — We’re Cooked!” The headline writers would have a point. Solving climate is going to be harder, and more improbable, than winning World War II, achieving civil rights, defeating bacterial infection and sending a man to the moon all together.
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So how do we engage in a possibly — but not probably — winnable struggle within a rigged system against great odds, the ultimate results of which we’ll never see? Forget success, how do we even get out of bed in the morning?
We could order in Chinese and lock ourselves in the closet, but we shouldn’t. Because there’s good news: We’re perfect for the job. If the human species specializes in one thing, it’s taking on the impossible.
We are constitutionally equipped to understand this situation. We are, after all, mortal, and so our very existence is a fight against inevitable demise. We also have experience: The wicked challenges we’ve faced through the ages have often been seemingly insurmountable. The Black Death killed off at least a third of Europe in its time. World War II claimed 50 million lives. We won those battles — sort of. We’ve spent our time as Homo sapiens fighting what J.R.R. Tolkien called “the long defeat.”

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