"We are going to be roasted toasted and fried"
Christine Legarde IMF
Is this really our future?
Climate change brings us face to face with the reality that we can and we are changing our climate, however it is not just a science issue, it is also a political and philosophical one. This is because the question of how to respond depends on a few things beyond climate science. When scholars of the future write the history of climate change, they will wonder why with all the facts on the table, why was not soaring public interest and ambitious political action inevitable?
They will ponder on why was such a lack of interest and even outright denial more widespread now than they were in the year of the first climate change summit?
How did the rational arguments of science fail to win the day?
The IPPC report of September 2013 provided plenty of factual ammunition and was inevitably attacked by climate deniers. In response, rebuttals, de-bunkings and counter-arguments poured forth, as fighting denial has become a cottage industry in itself as climate change becomes more and more associated with left-wing ideals, hippies and benefit claimants with nothing better to do.
None of it makes any real difference. This is for the simple reason that the argument is not really about the science; it is about politics and values. The real way to engage the public on climate change is to find ways of making it resonate more effectively with the values that people hold, as it is human values, more than science and technology, which shape public perceptions.
The IPCC's declaration that the world will warm by anywhere between 1°C and 4.8 °C reflects social and political uncertainties, not scientific ones. Climate scientists study the climate. They just give us the facts and it is us who choose whether to believe or disbelieve, to take action or remain dormant. We can choose to limit warming, or continue with our carbon rise and take our chances in a world that will be around 3 °C + and rising in the very near future and all the unforeseen consequences that it will bring. It's up to us!
The first half of this century we are carrying on business as usual: we rely heavily on fossil fuels. We did not introduce any dramatic changes to our life styles or activities in terms of consumption, travel and the number of children we have. Almost imperceptibly the ecosystem services and its cycles are collapsing as heat waves, droughts, forest fires, torrential downpours and floods become a perpetual cycle of climatic events. These events will be more noticeable and more aggressive as we near 2025.
By 2050, the consequences of climate change will became too difficult to ignore. As a result, our governments will slowly begin introducing some unambitious policies to regulate emissions. Ocean acidification will be so severe that the marine animal death toll will be hard to ignore and the Arctic will not have had ice during the summer for several years as the polar bear faces extinction.