Now Is Not the Time to Give in to Climate Fatalism
With April being this month, we celebrate Earth Day and the reports on the acceleration of climate change, we are sharing an article that urges we don’t give into climate fatalism and continue to do all we can to stop global warming. Susan Joy Hassol and Michael E. Mann say in Now Is Not the Time To Give in to Climate Fatalism (Link), “We are at an agonizing moment in world history. The combined stresses of the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, and economic troubles stemming from spiking oil and gas prices, inflation, and growing global inequality have pushed us to our limits— geopolitically, environmentally, and psychologically. After centuries of colonialism, intensive resource extraction, and narrow, short-term thinking, the chickens have come home to roost. But what if we could feed three birds with one scone?”
The authors note, “Following the release of climate reports, such as the recent IPCC assessments, we often observe a surge of doomism. When headlines proclaim it’s ‘now or never’ to limit warming, some assume we won’t do what’s needed in time. And if you think there’s nothing we can do, why bother trying? Some well-meaning people can be weaponized by those who stand to benefit if we throw up our hands in surrender rather than challenging the fossil fuel industry’s social license. We must stress the urgency. There is clearly no time to waste. But there is agency too. The problem with ‘now or never’ is that it implies a hard threshold at 1.5°C that if we fail to achieve, it’s game over. But this game will never be over. There is no point beyond which we shouldn’t keep trying to limit warming. Every fraction of a degree matters to the level of suffering climate disruption will rain down on us.”
“With so many crises competing for our attention and concern, how can we prioritize the greatest threats when the more immediate ones so often displace the most important?” the authors ask. “Someone needs to be thinking about the future, and fittingly, those who will inherit it, are. More than 80 percent of young people are worried about climate change. And they are angry, as well they should be. Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Villaseñor, Vanessa Nakate, and other leaders of the youth climate movement are fueled with righteous anger against those who have stood by and watched as the world burned.”
And Hassol and Mann reveal new insight: “Interesting thing about anger; turns out it’s a more useful emotion than anxiety or depression when it comes to climate action. It engages and empowers. There is good cause for righteous anger. There is a villain in this story. The fossil fuel industry, the richest in human history, has known for decades the climate damage its products would do. Its own scientists told them decades ago. But instead of releasing the scientific findings and charting a different course, it bankrolled a massive disinformation campaign designed to thwart action on climate change. The industry, and the politicians it supports to do its bidding, have been largely successful in blocking effective measures to rein in climate change.”
And reining in climate change is doable. According to the IPCC’s latest report, on climate change mitigation, “reducing future climate change by cutting heat-trapping gas emissions or increasing their uptake from the air, tells us that this is entirely possible, using current technologies. Many such actions are on the so-called ‘demand side,’ because they reduce energy demand rather than increasing its supply. The IPCC found that demand-side strategies could reduce 40 to 70 percent of heat-trapping gas emissions across all sectors by 2050. A pretty astounding finding, and as investigative journalist Amy Westervelt bemoans, why wasn’t this a headline in every paper?”
“Let’s return to our three birds: war in Ukraine, climate change, and the economy,” they say. “A broader and more integrated approach sees these not as three separate crises but as one with a single win-win-win solution. Now is the time to tackle these related crises and seize the opportunity to move with determination into the clean energy future. The U.S. is in a good position to do so; we’re not starting from scratch. The U.S. is second (to China) in both wind and solar. Fossil fuel companies can use their expertise, work force, and other resources to become broader energy companies. Their experience in geology can be turned to geothermal energy, which has tremendous untapped promise. Their experience in offshore oil can be turned to offshore wind, a resource with enormous potential, and in which the U.S. lags far behind a dozen other nations. Peabody coal owns extensive lands that can be used for solar farms and other renewable energy development.”
“The only path to lasting security is to get off fossil fuels, once and for all. Let this be the moment that the U.S. takes the lead in solving the related challenges before us, helping propel the world toward a climate safe, politically secure, and economically prosperous future.” Hassol and Mann issue a call to action: “It is in our hands.” Let’s hope we can achieve this win-win-win!