Official Site of Speaker, Historian and Author Sean Munger

Climate Change

What are we going to do about climate change? Moving from recognition to mitigation. [video]

I will be the first to admit that the above video, produced by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change), is a bit “wonky.” It’s over 11 minutes long and very technical, laying out a host of views on how countries, industries and trans-national entities can work to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. There’s a lot here, from fostering renewable energy to replanning our major cities to use less energy and direct our industries toward more environmentally responsible patterns. But, as dense as this is, I really do recommend watching the whole thing. The more informed we all are about climate change, the more we can do as citizens, as voters and as residents of planet Earth to help solve it.

While there are many more videos on the subject of climate change that are shorter and more succinct–this post was originally going to be a video of actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech to the United Nations on climate change–I chose this one because I think it’s time to move beyond recognition of the problems of climate change, discussion of what the problem is, and instead move toward talking about how we’re going to solve it. As a global society we’ve put that conversation off for far too long. The IPCC’s recommendations are a first step, but a necessary one. I believe strongly we must be proactive on the issue of climate change. We must make choices on how to solve it, or else our apathy and inaction will force certain choices upon us–ones that will invariably be much more painful than those we could have made.

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  1. Unfortunately I’m a pessimistic person on this issue. I think we will have to see cities underwater before everyone agrees it’s time to act. I hope I’m wrong.

    • I’m a little more optimistic. The one thing about denialists and foot-draggers is that the realities of climate change will not wait for them to come on board. As they will never acknowledge reality, their opinions can simply be ignored. A private company that realizes economic value (and environmental responsibility) in a changeover to greener energy techniques, or an international organization that sees an opportunity to advance a viable climate change measure, will eventually act regardless of whether others agree that action is necessary or appropriate. It’s been clear for some time that viable solutions are not going to come from national governments or policymakers. Thus, non-profits, business and individuals working collectively will eventually step in to fill that void. I’m 100% certain this is going to happen simply because we have no other choice.

      • You’re right, choices are running out. It doesn’t help that there is so much disinformation out there about these issues. People don’t know what to believe anymore.

  2. Margaret Thatcher is generally regarded as being the British politician that put the environment onto the political agenda here in the UK. She was also the first, and to date the last, British Prime Minister to have a science degree, the argument being that she had an understanding of the science when it was presented to her that other politicians lacked. I’d argue that policymakers and national governments will have a role to play in delivering viable solutions, not least because it is they who set the agenda and who command the financial resources that major change will need. For example I probably wouldn’t be sat under an energy saving light bulb as I type this if it wasn’t for UK/EU legislation phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs, whilst the planned nuclear power stations to be built in the UK would never have gone ahead without government financial backing.

  3. I’m concerned we are going to end up being forced to attempt geoengineering (say, injecting shiny stuff into the upper atmosphere). Doing experiments on the whole planet is not ideal. I think the ozone hole (largely dealt with by banning a few chemicals) has given governments a false sense that they can act meaningfully and quickly.

    As an Australian I despair of my own government. We have a Prime Minister who recently announced that ‘coal is good for humanity’ and that (essentially, and I _am_ paraphrasing) it is our duty to reap God’s bounty as heavily as we like.

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