Over the next few weeks I will be discussing with secondary students how climate change is affecting our future and what we can do about it.
First obvious thought is that my generation is responsible for this huge mess (particularly as we could have done so much more to prevent it) and that their generation is going to suffer the consequences of our inaction. Second immediate thought is how messengers of bad news can be treated, since time immemorial (remember how Sparta treated messengers?). Uh-oh I am going to be in for a very rough time indeed!
Doom and gloom, appeals to people’s sense of responsibility, naming and shaming, naming and engaging etc. have largely not worked in getting sufficient action on climate. The simple explanation for this is the lack of economic incentive. As long as we do not have to pay the climate change bill and as long as fossil fuels are subsidised (i.e. polluters are paid to pollute) there is insufficient incentive to change. However, we are starting to see the effects of climate change in extreme weather events that are sending off some alarm bells in the world’s capitals.
In my talks to students I will have to say something about what has happened, how what is being done is largely insufficient and how we (particularly those of us who live in the developing world) will suffer tremendously from catastrophic climate change. Or is that our collective inevitable fate? Thankfully there are scientists in the world who are researching what science-based solutions exist to the climate change problem. It turns out that climate change is a problem that can be solved by applying existing technologies and practices and by making polluters pay for the damage they cause to peoples’ lives, livelihoods and our environment.
So to back up my argumentation with my sceptical student audience I am coining a new term: Science Based Solutions and producing this website to explain what I mean by these solutions. What are they? How do they fit with Science Based Targets (term often used in climate change circles to describe emission pathways to stay within 1.5 °C and 2°C global warming)? Carbon pricing (putting a price on pollution) etc.?
The better news is that the world can avoid catastrophic climate change (anything above 1.5 °C global warming). The bad news is that to do so means massive change is coming, whether it is climate change itself or changes in our economy, how we produce and consume energy, stuff, food and water. And we all know how much we like to change, don’t we?