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The IPCC Climate Report Outlines An Alarming Future: Avoiding The Worst Means Trying Everything

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 15, 2021

The sixth assessment report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dropped last week, with the conclusions covered by nearly every major news outlet. The report outlined multiple futures, each a dire picture of an earth where the continued release of carbon dioxide and methane results in a significantly warmer climate where extreme weather events are the norm and sea levels are drastically higher than today. There is no good outcome, but the author’s made clear that there is still time to avoid the worst with immediate and sustained action. That won’t be possible until those who care about climate stop attacking and undermining competing low-carbon approaches: to succeed, we need everything.

The climate movement is not a monolithic collection of like-minded activists, each pushing a singular vision and agenda to achieve net-zero. Rather, there are millions worldwide concerned about the climate crisis and leading a variety of disjointed and competing efforts to decarbonize the global economy. They regularly disagree on strategy and tactics, and they sometimes bring out the knives. These aren’t bad-faith attacks from entrenched fossil lobbies: Carbon capture is regularly attacked in the green press because near-term uses benefit fossil incumbents; the Sierra Club and Greenpeace are unequivocally opposed to nuclear technology, a key source of carbon-free power; even the term ‘net-zero’ has come under scrutiny. Just in the last week, the New York Times

NYT
published an attack on hydrogen based on a study coauthored by a proponent of 100% renewable energy who nevertheless has sued other climate scientists who questioned his work (undeterred, those other scientists have quickly questioned this recent work).

This is lunacy. When your boat starts taking on water, you don’t argue about who should be bailing and which bucket to use. You and everyone else grab whatever you can and you start getting water out of the boat.

Demonizing others and their approaches as inferior is not just counterproductive, it’s dangerous. The IPCC assessment notes that we have already warmed 1.1°C , and the world will warm still more even if we cut off all emissions tomorrow. During a year of blistering heat across western North America, catastrophic flooding across Europe and China, weeks of freezing temperatures in Texas, and unprecedented drought and fire across the world, the impacts of climate change and the difficulties ahead have been made painfully apparent. It doesn’t matter if your bucket has holes, you’re using your hat, or you have nothing but your hands: it’s time to bail this boat out.

There is no one solution or silver bullet to the climate crisis, and every decarbonization strategy comes with tradeoffs. The goal should be minimizing the limitations inherent in each approach, not faulting them and working to throw them to the side. Attempts to block each other are a waste of time and energy, and all of our efforts need to be placed on advancing solutions, every solution. Batteries? Yes. Hydrogen? Love it. Carbon capture? Sign me up. Biofuels? Give it to me. Nuclear? I want it, existing or novel, fission or fusion. Space-based solar power? Aim that energy beam right at my house. Geoengineering research? Absolutely, nothing can be off the table. Work to find the faults in each and then work to make them better. It’s past time to recognize that the scale of this challenge requires everything we have; anything short of that is a risk we cannot afford to take.

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