The latest IPCC 6 report released this week is 3000 pages long. Fortunately for our readers, we don’t intend to copy and paste them all here! All we can do is share some of the highlights and leave you to fill in the spaces on your own. Let’s start with a tweet from Bill McKibben, who has just returned home after accepting the prestigious Congressional Medal of Distinction.
Basic IPCC formula, in order
1) build massive amounts of (now cheap) sun and wind
2) Electrify everything to run on it
3) Conservation and efficiency
4) Research the hell out of the last hard stuff (planes, cement, etc)
5) Stop cutting down trees for cows (or anything else)
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) April 4, 2022
If you have to condense 3000 pages into a nutshell, that’s a pretty good start. Antonio Gutterres, Secretary General of the United Nations was equally succinct. In a tweet, he said, “The latest IPCC report is a litany of broken climate promises. Some government & business leaders are saying one thing, but doing another. They are lying. It is time to stop burning our planet.” He adds, “Investing in new fossil fuels is moral and economic madness.”
Greta Thunberg also had something to say about this latest report. “When reading the new IPCC report, keep in mind that science is cautious and this has been watered down by nations in negotiations. Many seem more focused on giving false hope to those causing the problem rather than telling the blunt truth that would give us a chance to act.” For more on the fight to water down the report, see this illuminating report from The Guardian.
What Should We Learn From IPCC 6?
Christiana Figueres is from Costa Rica, a nation that is doing more to address its carbon emissions. She was deeply involved in the negotiations leading to the Paris Climate Accords of 2015. Speaking with Bloomberg Greenshe had this to say about the new IPCC 6 report.
“I don’t have words to explain. “Concerning” is not enough. This is frankly a terrifying report. It’s not really about megatons. It is fundamentally about the long term well being of the entire web of life on this planet.
“It was quite foreseeable that the report would underline, yet again, that we are not doing enough, neither in terms of scale or speed. This decade continues to be the decisive decade to have half a chance to close the warming gap. We are far from being below 2° C, let alone 1.5° C. Beyond that, adaptation would be in serious question. It could trigger the point beyond which ecosystems will simply transform irreversibly.
“I’m lacking words for this. It’s beyond immoral. It’s suicidal. What is suicidal is our inability to take the decisions and enact the behavioral changes that we perfectly well can in order to align our planet with the Paris Agreement. That’s the problem. There is nothing new that any report can tell us about what we should be doing. The gap that we identified years ago is not closing; in fact, it’s enlarging. That’s the news. It’s tragic.”
Had we heeded the warnings about the danger of burning fossil fuels when they first started back in the 1950s, we wouldn’t be talking about global heating today because there wouldn’t be any. But we didn’t. Had we started taking things seriously when the Kyoto climate conference was held in 1997, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. But we didn’t. Had we honored the commitment made in Paris in 2015, the situation today would not be so dire. But we didn’t.
The race is on to drill for more oil and gas and dig more coal as a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine because heaven forfend that we alter our lifestyle one iota to help slow down the climate change juggernaut. Americans in particular are wringing their hands in horror now that it costs well north of a hundred bucks to fill the gas tanks of their Suburbans and Stupid Duty pickup trucks. They are like Slim Pickens riding the bomb down to the ground at the end of Dr. Strangelove, smiling all the way.
The message is clear. We must stop burning fossil fuels or destroy the ability of human beings to survive on Planet Earth. Do we understand that? Do we get it? Will we ever awaken from this nightmare and do the right thing?
Nope. Not in this lifetime and not in this world. We are having too much fun and are drunk on the power that burning fossil fuels gives us. We won’t stop any more than an alcoholic or junkie will give up booze or drugs. The future is too damn scary to face sober, so let it rip and let God pick up the pieces.
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