On Being Scared about Climate Change

My fellow Research Associates and I were talking this morning about what we've learned so far about climate change.  As our knowledge is increasing, so is our fear. Part of our job here at Globalsolutions.org is to remain up to date on current events. This is great in terms of making me a well-informed citizen, but also disheartening because it takes away the bliss of ignorance. I have always known that climate change is happening, and that we have to act now to help repair and hopefully reverse its damaging effects. However, reading the news every day drives this point home with frequency.

In a recent report, the International Energy Agency calculated that making clean energy investments sooner would be cheaper than leaving them until after 2020. To meet climate targets before 2020 would require about $1.5 trillion, but to achieve the same results after 2020 would take $5 trillion. So, a delay in making the transition to lower carbon energy systems is not only risky, but costly.

The IEA's report also states that carbon dioxide emissions from energy rose by 1.4% in 2012 to a record high level. The report warns that due to the rapid rise of greenhouse gas emissions, relying on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol (which would be signed in 2015, but wouldn't take effect until 2020) would be doing too little too late.  Chief economist for the IEA, Faith Birol, warned that greenhouse gas emissions were rising so fast that continuing to do nothing will set the world on a path to 5⁰C of warming. For other metrics-system challenged people, the level of temperature rise that is considered "safe" is set at 2⁰C above pre-industrial levels. Beyond this limit, global warming is likely to be "catastrophic and irreversible."

This is terrifying. It is something we need to fix now.

So why aren't we trying to fix it? Is it that people don't know, or is it that we, as a people, are not scared enough? We've all heard about the many negative effects global warming will have on our lives even within this generation, but I think it is all too easy to pretend they aren't happening. That is why I completely support GlobalSolution.org's #CoverClimate campaign. I definitely think a major part of the problem is the lack of urgency felt by the general public, in part due to lack of climate change coverage or failure of the media to connect extreme weather events they cover to climate change. I think in this case, fear is a good thing. More people need to be as scared as I am because that is the only way change will happen.

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Comments

There is no need for you to be so scared about climate. We are in a stronger position to deal with climate issues than we have ever been, and furthermore the gentle warming of the past 150 years or so has almost certainly been overwhelmingly beneficial. The computer projections for dramatic temperature rises associated with rising CO2 give that gas an importance as a climate driver which it has never had before, and which the flatlining of global mean temperatures of the past 15 years or so suggest it does not have now.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Citizens for Global Solutions.

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