How climate change kills the future

23rd August, 2021.      //   Climate Change  // 

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One of the most difficult things to understand about climate change is that it will almost certainly become worse in the future, no matter what we do today.

Why it matters: Because of the time lag impact of climate change, measures to cut carbon emissions will only start to bend the curve substantially decades from now.

  • That offers us the ability to avoid the worst-case scenario for global warming, but we must accept a future that appears to be becoming worse by the year.

The big picture: Even under the most optimistic carbon emission reduction scenario — one that is far more ambitious than anything the world is currently pursuing — global average temperatures are expected to continue rising until the 2050s, and then begin to decline, ending the century higher than they are now.

  • This year isn’t the hottest summer of your life, but the coldest summer of the rest of your life, according to a meme spreading on social media.

Between the lines: There is no complete answer to climate change until some type of technology can cheaply extract carbon out of the atmosphere, which we aren’t near to developing. Instead, it’s an issue that will have to be managed for the foreseeable future, whether successfully or terribly.

  • However, this distinguishes it from the majority of the world’s other big issues.
  • As bad as the COVID-19 epidemic has been and continues to be, it will eventually come to an end, and both people and governments may take immediate steps to achieve immediate results. However, there is no way to “flatten the curve” on climate change in the foreseeable future.

Context: Given all of this, it’s no surprise that people’s reactions to climate change tend to fall into one of three categories: outright denial, obliviousness, or despair.

  • According to a December poll, 40% of Americans feel helpless and 29% feel hopeless about climate change, while the American Psychiatric Association found that more than half of Americans are somewhat or extremely concerned about the impact of climate change on their mental health in a separate 2020 poll.
  • The younger the responder, the more likely they are to express concern about climate change.
  • Last month, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote to investors that the “movement to not have children owing to fears over climate change is growing and impacting fertility rates quicker than any preceding trend in the field of fertility decline,” according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

Driving the news: Among a torrent of generally terrible news concerning the science of global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report issued on Monday had a few silver linings.

  • The IPCC was able to reduce the likelihood of the most catastrophic warming scenarios due to improved understanding on climate sensitivity — how much we can expect the world to warm given a doubling of preindustrial atmospheric carbon concentration.

Yes, but: Given that scenario, that same science also lowered the chance of our seeing the lowest levels of warming.

  • As a result, we have increased clarity about where climate change will lead us, as well as our capacity to affect that future through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Thought bubble: “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats, about a little boy’s adventures out on a very snowy day, is one of my 4-year-old son’s favorite books.

  • Reading it to him, I can’t help but think that, as he grows up in an ever-warmer New York City, he’ll have far fewer chances than I had to experience his own snowy days.
  • It’s a small thing in comparison to the projected harm caused by climate change — much of which will be endured by individuals far less fortunate than he is — but it personalizes the dismal feeling that our future will be poorer.

The bottom line: The basic fact is that many of us have been lucky enough to grow up in a world that has become better year after year, whether we realize it or not.

  • Keeping a feeling of optimism about the future in the face of steadily deteriorating climate change and everything that comes with it will be the struggle of the century, barring the most catastrophic worst-case warming scenarios.