The New Urgency of Climate Change

The COVID-19 crisis has temporarily shifted our attention away from the most pressing and life-threatening of all challenges: Climate change. But while we – at least in Europe and other parts of the world with responsible leadership – are on a flattening curve, the issue of the rapidly accelerating climate crisis is surfacing again. The CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is nearing levels of 15 million years ago, Siberia saw a record-setting hat wave with up to 38 °C, Arctic sea ice coverage is the second-lowest on record, and 2020 is on course of becoming the hottest year ever.

The more you read up on the topic, the more you realize that the current trajectory points to the elimination of humanity. This might sound pessimistic or overly alarmist but it really is the path we are on of we don’t change how we produce and consume energy as a species. Radically. Given that, despite all the clapping at the Paris conference, emissions are still rising and earth’s nations are far from taking joint action, it is easy to fall into a doomsday depression, though. What can we do anyway? We are all dead already. Humanity won’t make it.

But that would be giving in to exactly the complacency that brought us into this situation in the first place. And it would also strip us from the last chance we have. Every action we take now will mitigate the consequences of global warming over the next decades and centuries. So it is important to hear about the things that are already changing. That many companies and governments are already working on finding solutions and that renewable electricity is increasingly cheaper than any new power capacity based on fossil fuels, for example.

In an interesting conversation with TED’s Chris Anderson, Al Gore gives many more reasons to be optimistic: We are already at the cusp of a beginning transformation of manufacturing, transportation and agriculture and a generation of young leaders is pressing for much-needed change. It is up to each and every one of us to do their part in pulling this off and preserving our planet for future generations – one of which might be the next generation, already.

We have seen dark times in periods of the past, and we have risen to meet the challenge. We have limitations of our long evolutionary heritage and elements of our culture, but we also have the ability to transcend our limitations, and when the chips are down, and when survival is at stake and when our children and future generations are at stake, we’re capable of more than we sometimes allow ourselves to think we can do. This is such a time. I believe we will rise to the occasion, and we will create a bright, clean, prosperous, just and fair future. I believe it with all my heart.

Al Gore

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This is the 36th post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.

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