Urgent Need for Climate Change Leadership
I am worried about public and political inertia in climate change mitigation and adaptation — the changes measured are progressing a lot faster than human reactions to counter the real possibility of irreversible runaway climate change.
During past weeks, multiple bomb shell climate studies and observations have been issued, including but not limited to Arctic sea ice decline, Western Antarctic Ice Sheet disintegration and possible large-scale release of soil organic carbon from the Northern permafrost storage.
These are really troubling developments. I have serious doubts that general publics and policy makers fully understand the implications of 2 degrees celcius of global warming, or more, that humanity is subscribing itself to at the moment.
Political processes have considerable structural inertia for various reasons, but it seems that the more complex the governance system is, the more it can be lobbied by the extractives industry and other players.
European Union climate targets lack the kind of ambition needed for a 2°C high likelyhood carbon budgets.
Technology alone cannot scale up fast enough to counter the threat.
United States is unlikely to act or lead on climate due to the incoming administration, at least on a federal level. China is rational and can move into the right direction but can it go fast enough?
Mitigation should back track from a 500 to 600 Gt carbon budget and from leaving 80 to 90% of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground. There is no other way to move forward. In the short term, focus should be on social transformation of life styles of high-emitting nations and individuals. Much can be done by reducing energy demand.
There is seriously only a decade left to bend the trend. Emissions have to peak globally before 2020. They need to be reduced year on, year out, up to 10% in rich Western countries and 3% globally, every year.
All measures must be taken — market based incentives, tough regulation and war like public attitude in changing our consumption patterns. If these things cannot be negotiated to their full potential, at least they portray the urgency.
Observed changes in the Arctic can, if explained correctly, influence people’s perception on what it means to go through abrupt climate change on a global scale. Arctic changes feed anomalies into global weather patterns. Polar jet stream dislocation and cold air mass injection onto the Northern Hemisphere continents are observed phenomena and cause damage in societies.
Public broadcasting has to explain the Arctic linkage to observed anomalous weather in a narrative that is easy to understand. Stop using the polar bears in climate change news, create narratives that conservatives can follow and talk about the issue constantly in personal life.
This is affecting societies right now, in the Western countries as well as elsewhere. People cannot turn away from what they see in their personal lives.
Creating positive narratives for lifestyle change is also important — respect of nature, healthy diets, carbon free mobility and general tough leadership on climate. Many people have the ability to take relevant action.
Why don’t we go out and experience what nature is capable of and enjoy living like generations have before our species industrialised? Its still possible. And fun (subjective take, weather conditions permitting).