Three Reasons Why our Climate Isn’t Doomed
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) AR6 Synthesis Report was recently released, and the public response has been panicked at best. The report is essentially a summary of previous IPCC climate reports, but has been discussed with an extra dose of cynicism by the media, stakeholders, and by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres who declared, “The climate time-bomb is ticking.”
Here are three reasons why our climate isn’t doomed:
Innovation keeps fighting back
Anti-climate change innovation is better than ever. Clean energy, for example, is growing in leaps and bounds across the globe, and the United States is no exception. The U.S. Energy Information Administration updated their Short-Term Energy Outlook at the beginning of March 2023, which projected:
[R]enewable energy sources will grow the most during the next two years, with about 7 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity and 29 GW of new solar PV capacity being installed in 2023. These additions will result in renewable energy resources other than hydropower accounting for 19% of generation in 2024 compared with 15% in 2022.
Ice melt, which presents massive climate implications, is also being mitigated. One organization, the Arctic Ice Project, has developed an innovative solution:
Deploying a thin layer of tiny hollow glass microspheres atop Arctic sea ice will mimic and enhance its natural albedo effect, protecting young sea ice through the summer months, potentially allowing for conversion to highly reflective multiyear ice, thus slowing the rate of Arctic sea ice melt.
Meanwhile, reforestation projects are covering the planet with trees again to absorb carbon and minimize soil erosion. Investment in clean technology development is breaking records. Known polluters, such as large corporations and the U.S. military, are cleaning up their acts. And green entrepreneurship is on the rise.
The list of innovative steps forward could go on, but it is far too long to list here.
Carbon is being captured and offset in larger quantities
One huge factor behind climate change is carbon emissions. But carbon capture is growing in popularity. According to Energy Digital Magazine:
What once seemed like a pipeline dream is slowly but surely turning into a sustainable reality – significant investments by major carbon capture companies have resulted in cheaper technologies, offering a promising future for both companies and technology in carbon capture projects. This presents new opportunities to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is crucial in achieving net-zero goals.
And it has never been a better time to buy carbon offsets. As an individual leading a pretty environmentally friendly lifestyle but wanting to help the planet even more, it took all of five minutes for me to calculate my annual carbon emissions on my phone and affordably fund certified carbon offsetting projects around the world. Industries that are difficult to decarbonize have the same opportunities, allowing them to become net-zero or even net-negative carbon emitters.
IPCC’s warming predictions may be implausible
Finally, IPCC’s dire predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. Reason’s Ronald Bailey writes:
The report states that the evidence has “strengthened” that man-made global warming is responsible for observed changes in extremes such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones. Recent studies do show that the intensity, frequency, and duration of heat waves have increased since the 1950s and that the frequency of heavy rainfall events has also risen. On the other hand, clear evidence for changes in global trends in meteorological drought is lacking and global tropical cyclone accumulated energy (a measure of the combined duration and strength of tropical cyclones) is not increasing.
…So how much warming is likely to occur? University of Colorado climate change policy researcher Roger Pielke Jr. and his colleagues conclude in their 2022 Environmental Research Letters study that IPCC’s worst-case scenarios are highly implausible. Consequently, the good news is that global average temperature by 2100 is likely to be between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius higher than the 1850-1900 baseline with a median estimate of 2.2 degrees Celsius. That is only slightly higher than the Paris Agreement’s 2.0 degree Celsius threshold.
The climate is changing and heating, but gloom and doom reports should be viewed through an objective lens and in the context of other climate research. Reports from IPCC are no exception.
Is climate change a problem? Objectively, yes. Is it one that the citizen and private sector can continue solving? Also yes. We can all look at positive strides forward in mitigating climate change and have immense hope for the future.