Climate change reloaded

When I first learned about climate change, there was plenty of uncertainty and time. It was one of many problems. And it was easy to ignore.

Now the game has changed.

Here are my main takeaways from studying the current climate landscape at Don’t take them as hard facts, but as an invitation to reconsider and update what you understand and think about climate change.

It’s serious.

Climate change is happening. We have already warmed the planet over 1ยฐC on average, and we’re currently on track for 2 to 4. What awaits us there is an uncertain - but certainly very uncomfortable - future.

We’re moving towards changes that we will not be able to stop or revert, and that can eventually lead to a global ecosystem collapse.

Climate change is not a minor problem, it really is an existential crisis.

And it started already.

The closer we stay to 2ยฐC, the less catastrophic this will play out.

It’s personal.

Climate change does and will affect things you care about. It’s about you, your family, your place and community.

For everyone of us.

It’s urgent.

The roadmap to staying somewhat safe says we need to halve our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and get to net zero by 2050.

The scale of this task is staggering.

In fact, the numbers are so big and the timescale so tight, that:

  • No one single measure is enough. We need a wide range of scalable solutions.
  • Cutting emissions alone will not do it. We also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. (A lot of it.)

It’s not a technological problem.

It’s easy to frame climate change as a war that we can fight with technology and investments. But when we take a step back and look at the environmental problems of our time, the root runs much deeper.

We are consuming more than Earth can regenerate. We are producing more than it can absorb. And both at an increasingly damaging pace.

Our current economic markets and development models are failing us, because they are based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore.

So this is not only a technological challenge, but an economic, social, and cultural one as well. If we want to stabilize Earth’s ecosystem, we need to rethink our place in it and transform how we live.

It’s not too late.

Whether we hit or miss a threshold of 1.5 or 2ยฐC average global warming is not the point. Either way we are neither doomed nor saved.

The goal is to bend the curve as soon as possible and bring it back down as fast as possible. Every fraction of a degree matters. Every year it takes us matters. Because on our way along this curve, we are committing the world to changes.

Currently we are moving too slow.

But we are moving.

And we are accelerating.


[โœ‰๏ธ] Zopeful: Intro to climate

[๐ŸŽจ] Visualization of CO2 concentrations and our carbon budget

[๐ŸŽ™๏ธ] How to save a planet: Is your carbon footprint BS?

[๐Ÿ“–] Carbon Brief



[๐Ÿคน] Simulation playground:

[๐ŸŒ] Climate action tracker

[๐ŸŽฌ] Kurzgesagt - In a nutshell

[๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿซ] SDG Academy

[๐Ÿง‘โ€๐Ÿซ] Climate Change Academy

Party like it’s 2040

Today is Drawdown Day and it starts with a cool morning breeze, the first one since last week’s heat wave.

The radio announces that it’s 7 am as I pass by the basalt statues on my way to work. Although I must have seen them a hundred times, I still marvel at them. Ten tons of sequestered carbon, formed into a row of extinct animals, marching as if they were leaving Earth. I remember the first one being revealed in the late 2020s. Since then, carbon art has played a major role in shifting our mindset.

This was after climate change had arrived at everyone’s home in the early 20s. Dry soil. Dying forests. Ravaging wildfires. Floods.

I remember 2022 mainly because it was a new beginning for me. My failed attempts to get a foot into the nuclear industry’s door reminded me of Kazuto Tatsuta. But like him I persisted and finally got a job, programming models for nuclear waste transport and storage. It was a small start, though, and definitely nothing that would save the climate.

Actually, that’s how pretty much everything felt that year: a start, but way too slow progress.

As a result, the 30s were a rough decade. During the Big Melt, things went down really fast. And to make matters worse, many of the world’s energy grids got stuck halfway towards net zero. Too many plans and schedules were relying on carbon capture, while carbon capture resisted to scale to the amount that we needed.

When the rhinos went extinct, my Terra cohort came together again. We vowed to do better. We vowed to become stewards of nature.

That summer I wandered the German Green Belt. Took care of rivers. Monitored fungi networks. It was obvious that the ideas behind traditional environmentalism didn’t get us where we needed to be. They were based on a world that ceased to exist right before our eyes.

I got involved with ecomodernism, which gained significant attention during that time. My brother promoted lab-grown meat, and my mother was teaching hobby gardeners how to nourish their soil. I was happy to have them onboard.

You often read the claim that it was these small things that helped us reach a critical mass. But I disagree. I think that we reached critical mass only when industry started to act and take matters into their own hands. They started buying SMRs, without making a fuss. It kept them running while meeting the carbon standards. And as long as our industry was running and carbon standards were met, criticism tended to fizzle out. Probably they will switch to advanced geothermal energy systems soon, just as pragmatically.

Now it’s 2040 and the curve is finally bent, with emissions decreasing for the first time since fossil fuels.

The generation that is growing up now has never known a home without heat waves, droughts, floods and ice-free polar summers. They are children of a different Earth. For them, terraforming is not something that future Mars colonists strive for in science fiction stories. It’s what my generation did when we triggered a major climate change. And it’s what their generation needs to do to undo that change. To them, we are all terraformers.