Understanding the Climate Crisis
While there is not enough media coverage of the climate crisis, it is enough to make most of us think we have a pretty good idea of what it is all about. But considering how little we are doing about it and how much misinformation is spread daily on the subject, I tend to disagree. How many of us can explain how the greenhouse effect works, what the climate tipping points are and what consequences we can expect if we cross them? If you are one of the few people who can easily answer these questions, you probably agree that the way we currently talk about climate does not do justice to the crisis. If you can’t answer these questions yet, I understand. We all have busy lives, and for some of us this topic seems so far away and boring, or maybe just overwhelming. Perhaps it’s not the most pleasant thing to do, but taking a few minutes out of your days now to educate yourself about the climate crisis might save you from a lifetime of regrets later, so I think it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to be with my articles, but please take the time to understand the climate crisis. After all, this is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, and it is time to treat it as such.
If you think this is all bullshit, I ask you to do one thing: Take a moment and consider the consequences of being wrong. Do you really know enough about this subject that you are willing to bet the survival of human civilization against thousands of scientists that studied these things for decades?
I will try to give you a good foundation of what you need to know about the climate crisis, from how climate change works to where we are now and what we can do to stop it. Since this is too much to explain in a single article, I have divided it into 6 parts:
- Part 1 explains what climate actually is and why it is changing.
- Part 2 answers the question of who is responsible for climate change and whether or not it is actually a bad thing.
- Part 3 deals with tipping points and contains several sub-articles that discuss some of them in more detail.
- Part 4 will be about our status quo and our current trajectory.
- Part 5 will look at possible future scenarios (one in which we continue with business as usual, and one in which we successfully ended the climate crisis).
- Part 6 will be a collection of articles dealing with problems we are currently facing and how we can solve them. I will continuously add new articles to this list.
My goal is that even if you have no prior knowledge, you will have a solid understanding of the climate crisis after reading these articles and will be able to use that knowledge as a basis for making informed decisions. When we have a clear understanding of how the processes that cause climate change work, we also get a much clearer picture of our current situation and can have fruitful discussions about what we want to do about it. I’m certain that if more people would understand the actual scope of the climate crisis, the public discussions would be less about whether the climate crisis is bad and how much the countermeasures will cost us and more about how we can fight it most effectively. People need to understand that doing nothing is the most expensive option available and will likely lead to the end of our civilization. Addressing the climate crisis NOW, on the other hand, is the cheapest option we have.
I think the real question is not whether we will react or not, but only when. Do we have to experience firsthand the death and destruction that the climate crisis would bring, or can we correct our course before it is too late? I am convinced that each of us wants to do the right thing, but for that we need to know what the right thing is. We can only begin to discuss solutions honestly when everyone understands the problem. For some of you, this may sound a bit exaggerated, but I think after reading this series of articles, you will agree.
I think, by and large, almost all of us can agree on the big goals. If we ask each person individually, they all say they want clean air. So why don’t we have it? Because our current system does not take into account the environmental degradation caused by our actions. To solve this problem, we need a new system in which our actions are represented by the corresponding costs. The good news is that we already have all the solutions we need to combat climate change, we just need to agree on which ones we want to implement, and then actually do it. So let’s work together and find a way to make this happen instead of fighting over small details. There is far too much focus on what it will cost us and far too little talk about what we have to gain. I am convinced that we will live in a better world for everyone once we have solved the climate crisis. But to do that, we need to put in place a system that incentivizes the right behavior instead of punishing it. It is time to talk openly about the fact that we need profound systemic changes to address this crisis. But I am convinced that the majorities needed for this can be found by explaining the alternative.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now and wondering what you can do about the climate crisis, here are the three most important things:
- Learn about it.
- Talk to others about it and help them learn more.
- Demand that politicians and companies protect the climate and make your voting decisions accordingly.
Of course there are other things that can (and should) be done, like eating vegan and not taking airplanes anymore. But this crisis cannot be solved by individuals alone; politicians and companies have far greater influence. It’s like the picture at the beginning of the article shows: We are at the crossroads between a pleasant and a terrible future, and the deciding factor of where we end up is ourselves, so let’s work together and make sure it will be the pleasant one!
- Part 1: What is climate and why is it changing? The greenhouse effect
- Part 2: Is global warming caused by humans? And is it even a bad thing?
- Part 3: Tipping points
- Part 4: Status quo, tbd
- Part 5: Future scenarios, tbd
- Part 6: Problems and solutions, tbd
I will be adding new articles to these parts over time. So if you are interested and want to stay up to date, feel free to follow me.