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  • Mon, 29, Oct, 2018 - 5:00:AM

Are we in denial about climate change?

Short answer: yes.

I’m not a ‘climate change denier’. I believe the science. I believe that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. When something as shocking as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report is released, do I feel the need for urgent action? Yes. But do I change my actions in response? No. I carry on with my life as normal.

Collectively, we’re in denial about climate change. Based on the (few) significant actions taken to combat global warming, we are ignoring reality and denying that climate change exists. Our reaction to the news that our children are likely to die from this preventable problem unless we do something (i.e. what the IPCC report predicts) should be to freak out. It should not involve carrying on as if everything is fine. Carrying on with our current lifestyles is exactly the wrong approach to take.

The report has told us that unless we can keep emissions to the goal set in the Paris Agreement – a 1.5°C increase – tens of millions of people will have their lives endangered by rising sea levels. Exceeding that goal by just half a degree will take us into a zone of frequent, damaging storms as well as water and food shortages. Essentially, those in the developing world and island countries will die because wealthy countries could not limit their CO2 emissions. And those in wealthy countries will only be sheltered for so long.

The 1.5°C goal can be achieved. But the way we’re going at the moment, it’s super ambitious. The obligations in the Paris Agreement itself are not enough to achieve that goal. The idea that countries are going to go above and beyond those goals is naïve (one country already seems to be falling behind).

Immediate and substantial action should have been taken by every party to the agreement. Instead, two years later, we’re still setting targets and planning to do something about climate change. We can’t keep treating climate change like a future problem.

We’re in denial because we don’t want the responsibility of climate change. We want scientists to find a ‘solution’, and we cling to the hope that such a solution might exist. But there is no way out. The world can only stay liveable if we drastically cut our carbon emissions.

The latest IPCC report is urgent: it’s trying to spur us into action, trying to make us do more. And collectively, we want to do more. People are concerned about climate change. Everyone wants to solve this problem. But we don’t do more. Why?

We know, intellectually, that the world is ending because of our actions. But we also know that there are companies and governments who can do a lot more than we can. The mechanisms to implement rapid change are out there. The power we have as voters and consumers can make more change than any individual action.

Governments haven’t accepted the heavy burden of their voters' concerns about the impact climate change will have upon the future. The weight of the world’s future is on their shoulders, but they have dismissed it and minimised it and not made it the urgent priority it should be. The guaranteed negative impacts of inaction should have been enough to spur significant action. They weren’t. So concerns about climate change need to come to the forefront of political discussion, everywhere.

Climate change is a huge problem. Solving it requires a worldwide co-ordinated effort that is a lot more than individuals can achieve. Efforts to reduce climate change need to be collective. Without that significant change, we are ending the world.

TAGGED IN

  • Climate Change /
  • Denial /
  • Global Warming /
  • Environment /
  • Global Politics /
  • IPCC /
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Erin
Gourley

Regular Contributor All Articles