Ending The Climate Crisis Has Only One Simple Solution

vlimate crisis solution 11 16 
Eighty-five per cent of our global CO2 emissions come from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

As COP27 unfolds in Egypt, we are hearing about a large array of climate change solutions, ranging from building with carbon-absorbing bamboo and using less plastic to growing more kelp in the oceans to retain its carbon stores and enhance biodiversity.

All of these ideas are important and could lead to positive environmental outcomes if successfully implemented.

However, as climate scientists we believe that they also have the potential to be dangerous distractions, drawing attention away from the three things we absolutely need to do to end the climate crisis: Stop burning coal, stop burning oil and stop burning natural gas.

Ending fossil fuel use is essential to end the climate crisis, and there is no alternative.

A simple problem with a simple solution

Global warming is fundamentally a very simple problem.

Human use of fossil fuels — whether in the form of coal, oil or natural gas — releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, making the Earth’s greenhouse effect stronger and increasing the Earth’s temperature.

The temperature rise, which has reached 1.25 C and counting will continue unless we stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere. The only way to achieve this is to end the use of coal, oil and natural gas.

Other solutions including less deforestation, more conserved and restored natural areas and better agricultural practices could help to slow global warming. These would also have additional benefits such as strenghtening biodiversity and increasing community resilience to climate impacts.

vlimate crisis solution2 11 16
 Solutions like stopping deforestation can help slow down climate change, but not end it. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Capturing and storing carbon may also eventually play a minor role in limiting the worst effects of climate change, but after decades of research we still don’t have a cost-effective strategy to put hundreds of billions of tons of CO2 back into the ground once the fossil fuels have been burned.

If we don’t end the use of fossil fuels, all of the rest adds up to little more than branches piled on the tracks in front of a runaway train. They might slow the train temporarily, but until we get inside the engine and shut off the throttle, the train will keep accelerating.

It’s a big challenge, but not a complex one

The solution to the climate crisis is not complex. But it is big.

The amount of coal, oil and natural gas extracted from the Earth adds up to billions of tons per year. So, shifting from fossil fuels to improved energy systems will require efforts far beyond what has so far been allocated to solving the climate problem.

vlimate crisis solution3 11 16
 Replacing fossil fuels with carbon-free energy systems is the only way to solve the climate crisis we are in. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

But “big” is not the same as “complex.” The term “complex” implies that we don’t really know what the solutions are or whether they will in fact work. Neither is true here: we know with absolute certainty that replacing fossil fuels with carbon-free energy systems would solve the climate problem. What’s more, it’s the only way to do so.

So far, we have failed to take the actions necessary to tackle this big, but simple, problem mainly because the problem has been made to appear complex.

Complexifying the nature of the climate problem has been a strategy of the fossil fuel industry for decades, and fossil fuel lobbyists continue to push their agenda at COP27.

For many years, the argument was that the climate system is complex and that maybe greenhouse gas emissions were not a problem. Today, this same guise of complexity is being used to propagate doubt on the efficacy of real solutions and to promote actions that will take us in the wrong direction. Even now, gas representatives at COP27 are suggesting that burning more natural gas is part of the solution.

It is time we looked through this facade of complexity and get to work on the solutions that we know will work.

Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty shows the way

We do know what needs to be done. The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a promising step in the right direction. The treaty, which was launched at the New York Climate Action Week in 2020, called, at last, to stop the expansion of new fossil fuel development and manage a just transition away from coal, oil and gas to clean energy.

 

But we can’t stop there. We need to quickly move to shut down fossil fuel use altogether, by replacing existing infrastructure as quickly as possible with solar, wind and other non-fossil energy sources so that people can thrive in a safe climate future.

It’s time to look past the distractions and focus on the simple solution to the climate crisis. We need to stop burning coal, oil and natural gas. Our climate future depends on this.The Conversation

About The Author

H. Damon Matthews, Professor and Concordia University Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability, Concordia University and Eric Galbraith, Professor of Earth Science and Canada Research Chair in Human-Earth System Dynamics, McGill University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Recommended Books:

Yellowstone's Wildlife in Transition

Yellowstone's Wildlife in TransitionOver thirty experts detect worrying signs of a system under strain. They identify three overriding stressors: invasive species, private-sector development of unprotected lands, and a warming climate. Their concluding recommendations will shape the twenty-first-century discussion over how to confront these challenges, not only in American parks but for conservation areas worldwide. Highly readable and fully illustrated.

For more info or to order "Yellowstone's Wildlife in Transition" on Amazon.

The Energy Glut: Climate Change and the Politics of Fatness

The Energy Glut: Climate Change and the Politics of Fatnessby Ian Roberts. Expertly tells the story of energy in society, and places 'fatness' next to climate change as manifestations of the same fundamental planetary malaise. This exciting book argues that the pulse of fossil fuel energy not only started the process of catastrophic climate change, but also propelled the average human weight distribution upwards. It offers and appraises for the reader a set of personal and political de-carbonising strategies.

For more info or to order "The Energy Glut" on Amazon.

Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet

Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet by Todd Wilkinson and Ted Turner. Entrepreneur and media mogul Ted Turner calls global warming the most dire threat facing humanity, and says that the tycoons of the future will be minted in the development of green, alternative renewable energy. Through Ted Turner's eyes, we consider another way of thinking about the environment, our obligations to help others in need, and the grave challenges threatening the survival of civilization.

For more info or to order "Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest..." on Amazon.


You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

MOST READ

spreading disease at home 11 26
Why Our Homes Became COVID Hotspots
by Becky Tunstall
While staying home protected many of us from catching COVID at work, at school, at the shops or…
christmas traditions explained 11 30
How Christmas Became an American Holiday Tradition
by Thomas Adam
Each season, the celebration of Christmas has religious leaders and conservatives publicly…
a man and woman in a kayak
Being in the Flow of Your Soul Mission and Life Purpose
by Kathryn Hudson
When our choices distance us from our soul mission, something inside us suffers. There is no logic…
essential oil and flowers
Using Essential Oils and Optimizing Our Body-Mind-Spirit
by Heather Dawn Godfrey, PGCE, BSc
Essential oils have a multitude of uses, from ethereal and cosmetic to psycho-emotional and…
grieving for pet 11 26
How to Help Grieve the Loss of a Beloved Family Pet
by Melissa Starling
It’s been three weeks since my partner and I lost our beloved 14.5-year-old dog, Kivi Tarro. It’s…
two climbers, with one giving the other a helping hand
Why Doing Good Deeds Is Good For You
by Michael Glauser
What happens to the doers of good deeds? Numerous studies confirm that those who regularly engage…
How Culture Informs The Emotions You Feel To Music
How Culture Informs The Emotions You Feel To Music
by George Athanasopoulos and Imre Lahdelma
I have conducted research in locations like Papua New Guinea, Japan and Greece. The truth is…
how to kow if something true 11 30
3 Questions to Ask Whether Something Is True
by Bob Britten
Truth can be tricky to determine. Every message you read, see or hear comes from somewhere and was…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.