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A Positive Look on Climate Change

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bear_1750801cWith all that is happening around us- droughts, floods, hurricanes, food and water scarcity, it is quite difficult to be positive about climate change.

But, when I was asked to comment on the topic “How a society on the brink of collapse due to climate change will cope in the future?”, I realized there is quite a lot that is being already done, and being optimistic about the future is not such a flighty view after all. 

Climate changes, this is a well-known fact and this has been happening continuously for as long as our planet is known to exist. However, the rate that we observe now is nothing like what has ever been recorded. For the past many years, the brains behind IPCC have been trying to determine if it is natural climate change that we’re observing or it is not, and all their efforts were directed towards scientific evidence, scientific models, scientific speculations and interpretations. It was clear that this did not help much per se, but rather it allowed anyone and everyone to sell their work as “related to climate change”, and use it more like an add for their political campaigns than anything else.

The latest report was different. IPCC concluded for certain that climate change, at the rate it is happening now, is caused by human activities, and more precisely pollution from burning of fossil fuels and illegal cutting of forests. They also presented real and very relevant consequences- scarcity of food and water, floods and hazards, smog, disease outbreaks.

Now, we have four major parties that play a crucial role in all debates and ultimately decisions. These are the scientists, the governments and political parties, the industry, and the public, and in order to get the complete picture, we have to consider what each individual group is doing.

The scientists

In every environment-related journal, every second article (rough estimate) is related to climate change. This is quite a huge accomplishment, especially because scientific discoveries lead to adaptation of solid strategies and incredible technologies. Of course, we should not dismiss the fact that the majority of funding goes towards projects on climate change related issues (and the four problems identified by IPCC in particular).

There is a huge increase in number of newly-patented technologies, that either run on renewable energy (such as all these solar powered gadgets), or deals directly with a problem caused by climate change (purifying water, generate clean electricity, supplying energy to those, who need it). And last but not least, geo-engineering. I see it a bit as a desperate measure, but the need to develop carbon capture technologies, and to find a way to quickly remove excess carbon is the main priority (and therefore funded enormously).

The politicians and the government

The main focus here is on energy generation, pollution from the transport industry and generation of household waste (leaving aside all the small projects on parks and urban gardens, which are for the rich). A lot was said on how “maintaining business as usual” will not work, and how drastic changes in these sectors have to be implemented.

Looking at energy production, Germany is the leader, of course. These guys are shutting down all their nuclear and fossil fuel power plants, giving huge subsidies to the renewable energy sector, and encouraging house-hold solar production. The English are being a bit sneaky, by investing a lot in carbon capture, and building plants next to fossil fuel plants, to directly catch the carbon and store it in wells. The Dutch and the guys in Scandinavia, they are going all wind. Huge wind farms, especially the offshore ones, are being constructed as we speak, and they are powerful, and largely subsidised by governments.

Moving on to transportation, there is just no way anyone can refuse to acknowledge the huge increase in usage of electric cars. Not only that manufacturers are coming with a new and improved invention every other day, but drivers are actually stimulated by various programs. Now, besides EVs, huge projects are funded to build bike lanes everywhere. In addition, there are numerous bike sharing programs across Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, all reporting huge success. Of course, when it comes to transportation, we cannot skip the solar highways that seem to have gathered quite a bit of attention, and raised huge amount of money. And of course there is the special paint for roads, which illuminates light, and could potentially replace all these energy consuming lights along the roads.

And about recycling- the campaigns are enormous, and here it is quite cool to see that in cities like New York and London, not only that people are actively involved, but also supermarkets and restaurants are now recycling their left over food into energy instead of sending it to landfills.

The industry

The eyes are now on the big oil companies, who are desperately working on their “clean energy” strategies. Many moved to fraking, but this caused a whole lot of other issues- there are more problems than answers and bottom line is, no one really knows if it is as safe as claimed. But the renewable energy guys are going strong. Everyone is now working on selling better products, building enormous solar and wind farms and biodiesel production. Big companies are increasingly selling “green” products, as part of their huge environmental campaigns. I think I can safely say that there is no big company, which does not have an environmental and sustainability plan.

The public

There is and always will be a big division between the developed and developing world. On the lucky side of the planet, everyone is, if not going for, at least considering solar power. There is a huge interest in self powered gadgets that can do everything. Right now crowdfunding is a big thing, with the KickStarter website being super famous. The projects that receive millions in a time of a few days, are exactly those that are related to green technology, or planning.

A big problem that remains now is to get the developing world involved. These are the people, who struggle because of the harsh environment, but have no resources to do anything about it. But I have faith in society, especially when there are so many projects that help these communities- Panasonic is doing a big thing with their portable lights, hospitals and schools are built in Haiti powered by solar only. A lot is being said on fairtrade, and making sure that workers are not exposed to toxic pollutants.

I think not all is lost yet. A lot is being done, of course a lot still has to be done, but the truth is, if we all join forces, we might be able to correct some of the mistakes our society once made.

Image (c) The Telegraph

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