Climate Change Tweaks Our Lives, but there is Cause for Optimism

Published on: 9 May 2022 05:50 PM
by KnowESG

The latest publications from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cover future developments and how current solutions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assist people in adjusting to unavoidable climate change impacts.

The issue is that these solutions are not being implemented at a rapid pace. Along with opposition from the industry, people's fear of change has kept things the same.

To limit climate change and adjust to the harm that has already occurred, the world must modify how it creates and uses energy, transports people and commodities, designs buildings, and grows food. It all starts with embracing change and innovation.

From the industrial revolution to the rise of social media, people's lives and perceptions of their roles have changed dramatically. Many alterations, especially those related to climate change, are usually seen as negative.

For example, increased heat and acidity in the oceans have killed roughly half of the world's coral reef ecosystems. Coastal cities in Louisiana and Alaska, and island nations like Kiribati, are losing territory to rising waters.

Other transitions have had both positive and negative consequences. Many people's living standards rose dramatically due to the industrial revolution, which also brought about inequality, social turmoil, and environmental catastrophe.

People typically resist change because the fear of losing what they have outweighed the possibility of gaining something better. The desire to keep things as they explain a wide range of individual decisions, from voting for incumbent politicians to refusing to enrol in retirement or health plans even when the alternatives are rationally superior.

For larger modifications, this effect may be considerably more severe. Delaying inevitable change in the past has resulted in needlessly severe transitions, such as the demise of some 13th-century civilisations in what is now the United States Southwest. As more people become aware of the consequences of climate change, they may come to realise that change is unavoidable and accept new solutions.

The IPCC assessments make it obvious that further and larger climate-related shifts will inevitably occur in the future. The question is how beneficial and harmful will such transformations be mixed.

If governments continue to emit large amounts of greenhouse gases and populations only gradually adapt to the resulting climatic change, transitions will be primarily forced and mostly unpleasant.

As spring flooding worsens, a riverfront community, for example, might build its levees. As the magnitude of flooding grows larger, such adaptations reach their limits. The necessary levees to keep the water out may become too costly or obtrusive, negating any benefit of living near the river. The community might die out.

The riverfront neighbourhood might potentially take a more planned and proactive approach to change. It may relocate to higher ground, turn its riverside into parkland while building affordable housing for those displaced by the project, and partner with upstream communities to improve flood-control landscaping. To help halt global warming, the community can switch to renewable energy and electrified mobility.

Several examples can be found in the IPCC reports to aid this good shift. Renewable energy, for example, is now generally less expensive than fossil fuels, so switching to sustainable energy can save money.

Communities can also be redesigned to be more resistant to natural disasters by keeping natural fire breaks and making homes less likely to catch fire. Forward-looking climate data can be used to guide land use and infrastructure design, such as roads and bridges.

Insurance pricing and business climate risk disclosures can help consumers identify risks in the products they buy and the companies they invest.

These changes cannot be implemented by a single organisation. Governments that can require and incentivise improvements, companies that often control decisions about greenhouse gas emissions, and citizens who can put pressure on all three must all be involved.

In the last five years, efforts to adapt to and reduce climate change have made significant progress, but not quickly enough to halt the transformations that are already occurring.

More disruption of the status quo with proven solutions can help smooth these transitions and, in the process, build a brighter future.

Source: Sustainability Times