Green Biz Asks: Can we really solve the million-piece climate puzzle?
The Chief Climatologer at GreenBiz.com, Mark Trexler @ClimateRoulette posed an excellent question about just how complex the Climate Change solution is, and queries about how we can solve a puzzle with so many millions of pieces to it. A great think-piece that deserves responses. Here’s mine:
I like the puzzle analogy because there are so many pieces to it, but those pieces (different ecosystem effects, predictions & modeling, technologies at economies of scale, public opinion, etc.) are pretty much solved. It’s more like climbing Mt. Everest, only to be stopped before the peak by a powerful few who think they own Mt. Everest, and because of their power (and money), they’ve succeeded in keeping their narrow self-interest above the collective interest of survival itself (Putin, Big Oil, US Politicians, OPEC). But no one owns the Earth. The Paris Agreement was witness to that.
As with all historical struggles between the Powerful Few and the People, the People eventually prevail. From the tyranny of religions, Kingdoms, Gilded Ages & Dictators, people prevail (albeit it through blood and strife usually). With climate change, we are seeing the people rise in peaceful protest across the world. The People’s Climate March in 2014 shocked the UN with 400k in DC (I was there and it was powerful). Seeing the Scientists themselves this past weekend motivate 600 marches in the US and on 6 Continents was a crucial step. As a doctor doesn’t simply tell a patient they have cancer and leave it at that, scientists have spelled out what needs to happen and began aggressive advocacy for their patient, the Earth, by taking to the streets. On the 29th, yet a larger People’s Climate will take place as well.
Back to the analogy, there are defectors from the wealthiest atop Mt. Everest, and more and more politicians hear the people, the polls, the marches and know they can’t maintain their thrones without addressing those calls. Republican legendary leaders like Secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker along with huge businesses are vocally supporting a carbon tax and dividend. The necessity of invention providing renewables to the masses in the developing world is driving markets positively for clean tech and negatively for fossil fuels, faced with oversupply and competition with OPEC and non-OPEC suppliers driving oil futures into insolvency.
Like every good movie thriller, there will be a denouement, a tipping point, and the good guys will prevail. Just how, when and where, I’m as unsure as most on this crazy rollercoaster. But just as we know the movie will somehow turn out, I believe with so many younger people coming of age knowing nothing but the truth about the climate challenge and heirs to the result, that it will happen.
The current wave of populism that propelled Brexit and Trump, has already hit speed bumps as the world sees that recoiling in narrow self-interest and blaming the World, isn’t working out so well. The French Election points to smoother sailing as the centrist Macron is consolidating support against the nationalist Le Pen. Donald Trump, and his administration of deniers is facing the worst approval ever and almost no accomplishments in its first 100 days. In other words, people may be mobilized by Fear in the short run, but Hope is far more powerful in the Big Picture (or Puzzle).
Lots of deep breaths, marches and plain ‘ole “Keep Calm and Carry On” is the charge. The pieces will fall into place.