It would be an understatement to say that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released this week after 7 years of research, is alarming. While reading it, I was so overwhelmed with sadness and fear that I had to walk away and have a look at the exquisite beauty of the panoramic view of the ocean here in Malibu. The thought that our lovely village community will likely be significantly affected by the effects of climate change over the next decade is mind numbing.
Needless to say, the report was absolute in its proclamation that continued emission of greenhouse gasses and warming caused by fossil fuel emissions will “increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people, species and ecosystems. Continued high emissions would lead to mostly negative impacts for… economic development and amplify risks for livelihoods and for food and human security.”
Even more alarming, the report states “climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent conflict by amplifying well documented drivers of these conflicts, such as poverty and economic shocks.”
It is loud and clear that we must act immediately, if we have any chance of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and eventually decreasing CO2 levels to zero by the end of the century. This will involve “large-scale changes in energy systems and potentially land-use over the coming decades”, including a sharp reduction in energy generated by fossil fuels.
Not surprisingly, the report also states that “effective mitigation will not be achieved if individual agents advance their own interests”, which made me contemplate who these “individual agents” may be.
While deforestation is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it is largely happening outside of our own backyard in both Asia and Latin America. Our “individual agents” here is the US are primarily oil and gas companies that are increasingly getting rich off the back of fracking technology.
Rather than looking at our “individual agents” as greedy sorts, it really bears thinking about how we personally would react if we were told that our whole livelihood and raison d’etre were evil and harmful to humanity. It would feel like an unjustified violet attack on everything we believed in, including our charitable efforts and inclination. I’m sure you would agree that attacking our fossil fuel energy producers in such a way would probably work quite aggressively against climate change mitigation. This can already be seen in views expressed by Senate Republicans.
Let’s have a look at this picture in a completely different light, and list all of the reasons how our “individual agents” can and will make a huge impact on saving our planet and society as we know it. Shall we just give it a try?