Addressing climate change is going to be a race against time. Already we have delayed too long, and now we don’t have a moment to lose.
According to the “Carbon Law”, designed to limit global warming to 2˚C, we need to cut emissions in half during this decade and reach “net zero” emissions by 2050. The bulk of the work will be emissions reductions, especially in the next ten years, followed by the build-out of carbon removal by the 2040s.
The only sure path to stop climate change is to zero out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. That’s it. As simple as this sounds, it’s going to be an enormous job, requiring hard work over the coming decades.
But I find that most people don’t understand the time dimensions of the problem very well.
A useful way to think about the effort and timescales required is to consider the “Carbon Law”, which was coined by my friend Johan Rockström. Despite the name, this isn’t a physical “law” of the universe but rather a set of recommendations.
The most important action to stop climate change is simple: Reduce the damn emissions of greenhouse gases that cause it.
But it seems that some people don’t want to talk about that. Instead, we hear a lot about reaching “net-zero” emissions (instead of zero), using emissions-trading markets, or even fanciful ideas of “carbon removal”. And we’re hearing a lot more of this from tech investors, business executives, and government leaders lately.
This talk makes me a little nervous, and it should bother you too. …
It’s 2021, and the era of climate denial is over. We are moving beyond denying climate change and are now seeking ways to stop it.
The world understands climate change is real and addressing it is one of the most critical challenges facing us. That’s good news, but there are still many challenges ahead. The most important is overcoming our sometimes limited views about how to address the climate crisis.
In a nutshell, we aren’t always looking at the whole range of solutions we need to get the job done, or enough ways to scale them in time to make…
January 7, 2021
To our Project Drawdown community,
Over the span of a few days, the world has witnessed the best and worst of America.
Stunning wins, powered by grassroots activists in Georgia, have fundamentally changed the dynamics of leadership in Washington, D.C. These races — powerful rebukes of racism and hate — show us that decency, integrity, and equality will ultimately prevail in fair elections, free from suppression and intimidation.
We have also seen horrific assaults on our democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human decency by violent terrorists emboldened by Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric and propaganda.
WARNING: This essay discusses depression and suicide.
NOTE: I am not a mental health expert. Please consult a professional. If you need immediate help, call a crisis hotline. A list of resources follows this essay.
I want to make a confession.
I have had a lifelong battle with depression. It’s something I’ve largely hidden since childhood, given the shame and stigma that come with it, and I have been getting professional help for about a decade.
So far, I’ve tried many approaches to addressing depression. They made a world of difference, but like many medical conditions, there is no simple…
“…the code of our humanity is faithful service to that unwritten commandment that says ‘We shall give our children better than we ourselves had’.”
— Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing
“I’m going to be gone soon,” she said, slowly, visibly frustrated by her halting, labored speech. “I’m ready to die.”
“But I’m not finished. I’m not done with you. I’m not done being your mother. And I’m sorry. I can’t be there for you anymore.”
“So you need to promise me something. You have to promise me that you’ll be the best you can be. …
April 25, 2020
It’s hard to think of anything that has changed our lives more than the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has already infected nearly 3 million people worldwide, and killed well over two hundred thousand. And, no matter what we do, those numbers will rise sharply in the coming days and weeks. Before this is done, we will all lose someone we know, someone we love.
Beyond the tragic deaths and immediate health impacts, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy as well, causing massive unemployment and widespread business failures. …
As a environmental scientist, I get asked a lot of questions. Often, people want to know how they can help reduce their impact on the environment.
We can do a lot, of course. But it’s important to recognize that we can’t do everything as individuals. The systems we’re working to change are enormous, and our personal actions simply can’t do it all. We really need new policies, new technologies, new markets and business approaches, and new political and social movements.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
In order to avoid dangerous changes to the global environment we are going to have to rethink the way we do many things as a civilization.
This is a tall order, and…