We know the mechanism behind the changes in our climate, it is the result of decades of research desperately seeking any other alternative that has turned up nothing, but that our continued emissions of CO2 are warming the atmosphere, which… is driving ice melt, and sea level rise, and powerful changes in the weather of the entire planet.
Some of these changes are now more or less locked in – the impacts of our ignorance will be with us for at least a millennium. Some are not locked in, and it is those that we must now turn to, with ever more energy.
Recent research has indicated that if we continue on our current path – if we continue increasing our rate of fossil fuel emissions as we are currently doing, by the year 2100, we will reach atmospheric CO2 levels last seen when the earth was an average of 39 degrees warmer. If we reach that point, there is a very good chance that by the year 2200, if not sooner, there will be no humans left in the universe.
That is, however, avoidable. We have the technology we need to stop using fossil fuels altogether. We KNOW what it will take to avoid that future. We know how to stop emitting CO2, and still keep our modern standard of living. We know how to pull CO2 out of the air, over time. We know how to prevent our own extinction.
We even know the mechanism through which that extinction will take place, and through that knowledge we know how to delay that mechanism while we fight to pull away from the conditions that trigger it.
We need to accept that we are, in fact, powerful. We have swarmed over this planet in unheard-of numbers, and have achieved great heights, both of atrocity and of wonder. We have created the Great Pyramids, and we have killed off millions of our own number. We have harnessed the power of the sun, and the wind, and the earth, and the water. We have wiped out species that annoyed us, and exterminated diseases that plagued us.
Recognizing our own power is not hubris, it is essential for gaining the humility necessary to realize the damage we are capable of doing with that power. It is also essential for recognizing that we have within our capacity, the ability to change our use of that power.
We created the atomic bomb, and spent decades on the brink of ending our existence in radioactive fire, and yet we pulled back from that brink, and are now making an effort, shared by an increasing number of nations across the globe, to get rid of that power entirely.
We found that we were damaging the layers of atmospheric chemicals that protect us from the sun’s harmful radiation, and we stopped using them. We didn’t give up the technologies that ran on those chemicals, we found another way.
We now need to do the same thing here. We need to accept the damage we are causing, and take a different path. We can’t afford to do anything else, and when I say we can’t afford it, I mean it in a way never faced by this species before. True, energy prices will rise as we run our air conditioning to make up for the relentless heatwaves, and as oil supplies decline, and we will, as is evident from Australia’s experience right now, spend billions, if not trillions, cleaning up the damage from the storms, and we will spend billions trying to nurse our crops along to keep from starving, but all of that is small change. We cannot afford it because, in the end, the cost will be paid in human life, and though our population continues to grow at an alarming rate, that is one currency where we cannot go into debt.