The future is coming . . . faster

In my blog titled: Climate change: thoughts on the options, almost a year ago, I wrote about the implications of climate change for our future. That blog was based on the 2018 release of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report. Well, according to the latest IPCC report, the future is coming faster than we thought – at least in the sense that our time to make changes is shrinking.

Here’s what must happen. First and foremost, we need to reduce the net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all producers to zero by 2055 or, preferably, earlier. Net emissions means the actual GHG emissions minus the results of carbon sequestration efforts. GHGs include not only CO2 but also Methane, particulates and Nitrous Oxides. Methane, in particular, may be released in increasing volumes in coming years as arctic permafrost melts.  There may also be feedback loops in action: warmer air/ocean produces faster melting, which releases more GHGs, which increase warming, and so on. Whatever the combination, it’s the global average that counts. I know that 2055 seems a long way off but there are huge changes that need to be made between now and then. If the IPCC report turns out to be too conservative, those changes may need to be made sooner.

Our global to-do list includes, but is not limited to: greatly increasing the use of sustainable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.);  decreasing worldwide use of traditional sources of carbon-based energy production to zero; charcoal-fueled cooking fires as well as coal- and even gas-fired power plants must practically cease to exist; limiting the use of fossil fuels for transportation of all sorts; reducing the number of methane emitters, such as cattle and oil/gas leaks; and exacting a meaningful fee on carbon emissions, so that the proceeds of the carbon taxes/permits get returned to those in lower income brackets. 

Clearly, you can’t do all that by yourself, but you can become knowledgeable about the personal possibilities and conserve energy where you can.

Therefore, while we’re waiting for the countries, big organizations and politicians to act, it is time for us individually to change our carbon habits. Here are some suggestions.

  • First, insist that our elected leaders concentrate on our long-range future instead of getting reelected by pandering through and to wedge issues. This will be best served by getting money out of politics. But to make that happen we all need to wield the vote as often as we can; don’t miss an election, local or national.
  • Second, decrease your reliance on other people making it happen by changing personal habits and even building usage. For example: reduce electricity use by lifestyle changes and better insulated/ventilated buildings; telecommute/telework [Full disclosure: the author is considered to be the original innovator of these tele-concepts]; materially reduce car travel for work-related and other purposes; walk or cycle to work when you’re not telecommuting; Get an electric car if you live in a region with sustainable power sources; switch to less meat-intensive diets; and reduce your jet travel.

All of the above will help to meet the challenges of increasing global warming. If all of us participate in making these changes happen, we’ll have a good chance of arresting the warming trend.

The future is coming. Praying won’t help but action will.

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