If it’s true that we are merely consumers (as some view our existence), and not the moral stewards of our planet, then consider humanity’s Climate Change options for our future. There are several climate scenarios to choose from—depending on your taste for disruption. Your choices are, as brilliantly and illustrated in this interactive chart, 1.5C, 2C, and beyond:
"Carbon Brief has extracted data from around 70 peer-reviewed climate studies to show how global warming is projected to affect the world and its regions. "
Scrolling through the above list is fascinating, like strolling up and down aisles in a grocery store. For example, do you want a 1.5C world where winter minimum temperatures in France will rise .09C? Or maybe a 3C world where rainfall will increase by 21% in Eastern Europe? Lots to choose from.
But there’s a catch, actually many of them. First, costs vary considerably with your choices not only by dollars and cents but what you consider costs in the first place. It will be very expensive to suddenly shift to do what needs to be done to keep our temperatures to 1.5C. But you’ll save lots of money (and people’s lives and species) because waiting around for a 2C world will cost even more money (inflation and more efforts). The costs in savings on human misery, environmental damage, and species loss at 1.5C will be enormous compared to the disruption of a 2C world.
As for the cost of a 3C (and beyond) world, fuhgettaboutit. Not only will a 3C world cost more money than you can shake a stick at, but you may also well be throwing your (your children’s and grandchildren’s, actually) life and money down a great big hole—because when things get to this point it may be game over.
One must marvel at climate scientists’ ability to characterize what the world will look like at different points of warming. The IPCC special report probably gives many people the illusion (delusion, actually) that we have a lot of choices when we really only have one. (Not only that but the IPCC report is probably downplaying the dangers of global warming and our ability to meet various emissions thresholds.)
“The summary implies a Herculean effort. It notes that scenarios to avert an overshoot of the 1.5 C target would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems” and would be “unprecedented in scale.” But some experts have pointed out that the full report, hundreds of pages long in total, may suggest an even greater challenge than the summary would imply. They point to a greater emphasis on carbon dioxide removal and a higher probability of overshooting the 1.5 C threshold. This suggests an even more urgent need for immediate global action to meet the target.” (, Governors Wind & Solar Energy Coalition)
We either get drastically moving on addressing Climate Change on a scale and time frame that will matter or we risk everything. If we cannot stop further warming at this point in time, we are less likely to stop it at a later, more desperate time.
When we see Carbon Brief’s chart above, we should see it not as a list of choices but as the skeleton of a Climate Change Bottleneck growing narrower. Things we might have been able to do or salvage if we got moving now will be less likely as time goes on.