The Human Challenge of Climate Change: An Overview
Part I: Climate Change & Energy Series
Why It Matters
For climate change, energy consumption is at the heart of both source and the solution. This is because energy is involved in everything we do, in one way or another. According to the IPCC, energy is responsible for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy is the heart of the solution to the climate challenge
— International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2020)
How we choose to generate and consume energy is at the epicenter of successfully mitigating against both the effects of global warming and climate change. You can learn more about the difference between global warming and climate change here (LANI > internal link to climate basics article).
Climate change is often spoken about in terms of the direct, first-order effects of increasing temperatures, loss of ice sheets, rising sea levels, biodiversity loss, etc., but the real story is about the second-order effects on humanity and the living ecosystems upon which we depend to survive.
Massive climate-driven migration will cause untold suffering through wars, the rise of authoritarian governments and increased discrimination. The collapse of traditional food sources will cause hunger, famine and conflict. The rising sea levels will overwhelm islands, coastal cities and as always it will be the poor and disadvantaged who will pay the highest price. Acidification of the oceans will cause the collapse of fishery grounds, resulting in more hunger, more conflict and more death. And these are just a sampling of the effects we can reasonably model today. There will be untold unknown impacts that we can only guess at.
All this is going to happen on global scale in a time frame of 10’s of years. It has the potential make the worst horrors of the 20th century look tame in comparison and I believe it puts a moral imperative on us in the West to do everything we can mitigate it.
Climate Change and Health—CDC
It’s a major migraine, to put it lightly; nevertheless, it’s necessary we grasp the scale and scope of the challenge in order to lay out the solutions. This is the first article in a three-part series:
Part I—the problem;
Part II—how the world needs to change to address the climate challenge; and
Part III—some of the things we can do today to get started.