"Factory Smoke Blankets Clark Avenue" by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz / Public Domain

The hard truths of climate change — by the numbers

Sep 19, 2019

By Jeff Tollefson

Bruno Rodriguez is only 18, but he has seen enough in his time on Earth to know that he must to do something for the planet. Inspired by the student climate strikes in Europe, he founded Youth for Climate Argentina in his home country. The group drew more than 8,000 demonstrators to the national congress in May, and its leaders worked with senators to pass a resolution on 17 July, declaring a climate emergency.

Argentina is responsible for less than 1% of annual global emissions, but Rodriguez says the science is clear: everyone must take aggressive action if the world is to avoid a massive environmental and humanitarian crisis. “There is no middle ground,” says Rodriguez. “We need radical industrial transformation.”

Rodriguez is part of a grass-roots climate movement that is gaining momentum across the globe. It is driven in part by a new generation of young activists, and by mounting evidence that global warming is accelerating, which is increasing the odds of severe heatwaves in Europe, deadly fires in the western United States and massive tropical storms fuelled by increasingly warm oceans, among other things. With greenhouse-gas emissions still rising, frustrated activists are taking to the streets to pressure politicians to keep their promises.

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3 comments on “The hard truths of climate change — by the numbers

  • Absolutely everything we can. The more the better.

    We have already struck the iceberg and the ship is going down. The trick will be to save as many as possible, minimise the political turmoil, make sure what comes after never makes the same short sighted mistakes again.

    Every mitigation is still a mitigation through the catastrophe now unfolding. We must recognise the disaster happens most in poor, already hot, and coastal communities. We should selfishly give a damn at the very least because the mass migrations will cause mayhem.

    Our resources need to help the very poorest first, lift them out of poverty, give them solar power (off grid is topical and cheap), desalination, protected agriculture, smart communications, to have a liveable life.

    Our political actions needs to target the kleptocrats sidling into power everywhere. Their wealth-at-any-cost appeal to the greed of others, to cover their own demented acquisitiveness, needs stemming.

    Our economic actions need to reform financial institutions to stop casino gambling misdirecting investable funds into simply tricking others out of their wealth in fast trading, and incentivise the very long term investments needed for sustainable living, for energy and all other resources.

    Many thousands, possibly millions of us have been working on circular economy strategies and businesses. We can all see it coming. Its the investment, taken off shore and out of the economy that removes it from a more focused use in a sustainable Greener Economy.

    In the UK recognise Brexit is championed by the most kleptocratic of us. The EU has been the greatest enabler of the circular economy, of concerted collective action, of raised standards and reducing carbon footprints, and free-marketeers hate it. Don’t let them win!

    Me? I’m a capitalist too, but even I can see now is the time for the joined up long-term policy that a little dirigisme can deliver.


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  • With a little audience here, let me add yet again-

    Brexit will be an eco disaster.

    All we hear about is substituting trade to make sure we “do ok” financially. We will lose quite a chunk of EU trade and try to make it up with US and Middle Eastern Trade.

    Let us be clear these are not good markets for the eco technologies we have been developing for that large, eco-savvy market of Europe, and in response to their various development funding initiatives. The US is slated to fall badly behind Europe, Japan China and the rest of the Pacific Rim on electric vehicles (60% compared to 85% by 2050). The EU wants to get out from under Russian gas supply and is strongly motivated towards energy self-sufficiency and circular economic models. The US can’t wait to frack Alaska. They will continue to have no economic drivers for energy efficiency and the Koch Brother will keep the pedal to the metal.


    What will happen is we’ll fall back again on our arms industry. We’ll sell mightily into all those newly unstable regions and our old Middle Eastern customers.


    A deal will be less bad than no deal. BUT Remain is what a majority of those under 50 want and what most of industry actually wants. It is the most eco choice and we can resume our work together as before. Better, a chastened EU may look to fix a more intelligent region immigration program and collectively resource a foreign aid program to get our sustainable technology companies working and provide the lightweight infrastructures for energy and food production to those climate challenged countries nearer by.

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