Op-Ed: Is there still time for COP27 to hold back climate catastrophe?
As we approach the COP27 climate conference at Paris, it’s worth reflecting on what can and should be the objectives of the conference. We are in the middle of the largest environmental emergency since the advent of industrial civilization. There is no other way to put it. The science is in, the science is clear and unequivocal, and it is time the environmental establishment realized this and stopped pretending they can pretend.
We need to get to the crux of the matter. There are several questions that will need to be answered:
Is there time to prevent climate catastrophe?
Can we afford to live with a hotter world and a more degraded environment?
What’s the realistic cost of living in a warmer world?
How much will it cost to decarbonize the economy?
What’s the cost of the transition to a new economy based on a different set of principles?
Why are governments willing to accept the risks of climate catastrophe?
And finally, why is the political elite so willing to allow a transition to a future for us in which climate catastrophe is an accepted risk?
How did we end up in this mess?
A series of interconnected environmental shocks, primarily the burning of fossil fuels for transportation and heating, over the past century and the warming of the planet. While the most rapid of these were clearly man-made and could well be stopped, climate science has now established that the planet cannot, in the long term, be made livable without reducing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Indeed, the warming that humans have produced is the most rapid warming of the planet on record.
What’s the best scenario?
The most optimistic picture of what can be achieved, as set out in the U.N. report on the decarbonization of the global economy, is a very bleak one. The world’s economic growth rate could easily be cut by up to a third, with the result that the gap between rich nations and poor would widen by up to 50%. The United States is already about 7% more unequal than it was at the beginning of this century. With the gap between