We all know about climate change. But most of the time it feels like more of a concept than reality. Today I came across an interview with Joe Romm, author of Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know and the blog Climate Progress. He did a good job giving a comprehensive overview of the tangible effects of climate change that I don’t often think about, the kind of stuff we “know” in theory but don’t fully understand what it will be like when it actually happens to us.
Climate science is legit.
It’s constantly scrutinized. It’s peer-reviewed. The models are evolving as we continue to learn more and make real-time measurements all over the world. It’s really not up for debate any more, it’s simply a fact about our future. Climate change will affect us directly in our own lifetime, and you know it absolutely will affect our kids in theirs.
Climate change is already happening now, and the effects are irreversible.
It’s much easier and quicker to melt ice than it is to refreeze it. Every single glacier and iceberg that melts today (and they absolutely are melting today) is not coming back, because it would take around 1,000 years to refreeze the ice that has already melted as a result of climate change so far. If we continue our consumption habits and climate change continues, the effects will be increase exponentially until the world as we know falls apart. However, by taking action now, we can slow that process down significantly, giving us time to adapt our current infrastructures and improve our technology to find new solutions.
“Once in a lifetime” weather events are going to happen more often.
Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy are examples of recent rare weather events that had devastating consequences. Right now, we are able to react to these disasters, provide relief, and rebuild. But as these disasters occur more frequently, the annual costs of relief and rebuilding will be enormous, and people will move away from disaster-prone areas such as the coasts. On that note…
The refugee crisis is just beginning.
Even with slight increased in temperature, large portions of our country and our neighbors will become unable to support agriculture and comfortable human existence. People will move to areas with better opportunities. How will you feel when the population of your city doubles or triples in a short period of time? The infrastructure cannot handle it. Everything will be crowded, your cost of living will skyrocket, schools will be overrun… it will be annoying at best and terrifying at worst. But we will have to adapt. This will be the new normal.
Climate change will have a much bigger impact on poor and developing countries.
For wealthier countries such as the US, we have the resources to adapt our cities and systems as the environment changes. It will be unbelievably expensive, but we can do it. The real victims of climate change will be the vast populations of people in developing countries that will be destroyed by weather events or forced to migrate in order to survive. Since “once in a lifetime” weather events will happen more often, we won’t have extra resources to help poorer countries recover from natural disasters. We will be rebuilding our own.
The clean energy revolution is already happening now.
Developing countries are skipping the step of building coal-powered electric plants and going straight to individualized energy creation and storage with solar panels (or wind power) and lithium batteries. When you look at the 50-year future of building a new coal power station, burning fossil fuels cannot compete with the lower initial investment and long-term maintenance savings of solar and wind. The next step will be clean transportation, using clean electricity to power electric cars.
Knowing the facts about climate change can make you rich.
Climate change will change the world over the next 25 years, similar to the way the internet has over the past 25 years. Regardless of your political stance on climate change, knowing what is coming can help you make smart decisions and wise investments… like being an internet pioneer in the 90s.
What can we do?
For me personally, I want my business (and my existence) to make a small difference in the world for good. I care about people and the environment. Climate change affects both. How can we use our time and resources to make an impact on such a big problem?