…and we simply don’t care enough.
The publication of the 3,949 page Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis Report in early August elicited many different comments from governments, the media and individuals around the world. This is the sixth such report (and only part one of three) and likely to be the last one published while we still have a chance to remain under the 1.5 degree heat increase agreed at the Paris Climate Change Accord.
I was on vacation when the report was released, so actually had time to read it. To save you the trouble and time, the first 42 pages give you all you could need. If you want more, pages 2,891 to 3,002 are very useful and give details about observed trends and what they can be attributed to, and then the different issues that would arise at different levels of temperature increase. The remainder is made up of further detail and excellent reference points. There aren’t appropriate words to describe the situation we will find ourselves in unless we take immediate and life-changing action.
It was disappointing to experience the speed at which the news cycle moved on from the report launch. On the day it came out, the news was deemed headline worthy and many experts came out to share their views. There was much collective handwringing about how terrible it all is. The day after launch (remember this is one of the most important, landmark reports that will be published in our lifetimes) we saw…nothing, nada, tumbleweed in the streets. It was almost as if people saw the headlines, shook their heads and said, “Tut, tut, how terrible” and then went back on with their lives.
As a comparison, the Covid-19 pandemic rightly dominated our news cycle for the past 500 days or so, but the climate change issue is many magnitudes more critical to address. The challenge is the short term, immediate versus the long term, gradual. We know if we wear masks and take the vaccine our chances of getting through the pandemic are increased. There is no personal financial cost to either measure, the impact on our lives frustrating though it may be, is short lived. There have been millions of people whose lives ended because of the pandemic, and it is right we mourn every one of those people. Addressing climate change does not minimise the suffering of people and on a global level it will alleviate future suffering.