The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest, science-based jeremiad about the state of our warming planet.
The report’s conclusions are, as it has become popular to say in the Era Of Trump, shocking but not surprising. In fact, given the consistency and accuracy with which IPCC scientists have been trying for decades now to warn humanity about climate change, in the hope that governments (and voters) will somehow, finally, take action that is proportional to the scale of the existential threat, you have to admire the fortitude and creativity it requires to keep coming up with appropriate alarums. “Code Red” is as good a summation as any, but it just as easily could have been used for the first IPCC report, in 1990.
There are tons of smart takes out there. Like this one. And this one. And the New York Times has a handy-dandy summary of the main takeaways. There’s even a smart take on how bad the media is at reporting on the IPCC report.
But the bottom line hasn’t really changed. Climate change is real, ongoing and threatens every corner of the planet. And we are way, way late in our efforts to mitigate it, locking in devastating loss even if we get serious now.
But we should still get serious, very serious in fact, because, as has been true all along, what we do now will determine how bad it is going to get in the future. So it is important to ask yourself: am I behaving as if there is a Code Red? Is my government? Is humanity?
So far all I have seen is incrementalism, despite the increasingly urgent and dire warnings of the IPCC. What we need is radicalism. A radicalism that reinvents how we live and consume, reinvents capitalism to include environmental cost and impact in everything we make and sell, and reinvents politics by transcending tribalism and uniting humanity behind the goal of better caring for each other, the planet and all its other species. As I say, radical. But humanity and the Earth at an evolutionary inflection point. That is no time for cowardice, self-interest, or inertia.