The top story across the world right now is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report. As BBC News explains
It’s the final call, say scientists, the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures. Their dramatic report on keeping that rise under 1.5 degrees C states that the world is now completely off track, heading instead towards 3C.
Staying below 1.5C will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. It will be hugely expensive, the report says, but the window of opportunity is not yet closed.
The news comes on the same day the Trump-like Jair Bolsonaro inches closer to becoming president of Brazil
. He’s not just like Trump because they share a history of misogyny, they’re both critics of the Paris Climate Accord, too.
Just at the time when the world needs to pull together to stop it becoming a hellscape of famine and territorial war in a few decades’ time (fear for your children, pity your grandchildren), we’re more divided than we have been in most people’s living memory.
One thing about humans is we find it hard to focus our efforts on improving the future more than 20 years away. That used to be understandable (who knows what life will be like then, anyway?) but given what’s at stake, this could be our last chance to save ourselves.
The wave of nationalism and autocracy sweeping the world right now is focused on quick fixes to problems people perceive around them right now. ‘Who cares about slightly warmer summers (pass the suncream!) and a few bad storms every now and then? It’s a small price to pay if we can get our coal miners back to work!’
Even if the nationalists and autocrats know deep down that climate change will be a problem for their successors, they’re happy to profit now while they can. 'Let’s eat lots of jam today, for our grandchildren’s strawberries will be withered and inedible tomorrow!’
But we, the normal people just getting on with our lives, are to blame too. Why aren’t we making more noise about how we want 100% renewable energy and an end to pollution?
It’s because again, we just can’t picture that far ahead of our busy day-to-day lives, and thus even moderate politicians have an excuse to take donations from fossil fuel lobbyists and delay the meaningful, large scale changes that reflect would the urgency of the matter.
Today is a reminder that it’s time that changed. While we still have time left.