04 Oct 2019 in climate,
I’m sitting here in the dunes near Noordwijk and it’s a typical autumn day (at least as far as I can remember). There’s a lot of wind and every 10 minutes of rain is followed by 10 minutes of dry weather with occasional sunshine. The sea is getting close to the dunes, and although there is no danger whatsoever with these conditions, the power of the weather and the sea are a testament to how fragile our society is. Especially in a country where over half of the area is below sea level. Why another blog on climate change you might ask? Well, I recently discovered how serious this is, and this is one way in which I want to contribute. It’s not so much about writing, it’s about finding solutions or simply ways to contribute.
Partly I’d like to do an analysis of effort vs impact on different fields. One main thing that I find challenging about the whole topic is that I have this (limiting?) belief that it’s difficult for me to really make an impact. I feel that the problems we need to solve are so huge that it’s hard to know where to start, and even when I do know (invent a better battery, create a European high-speed train/hyperloop network), is that really something that I’m particularly suited for? I don’t know yet, and I’ll have to be fine with that. This is about the journey of finding out where I can help, and maybe how you can help.
I think looking at a problem space like this it’s benefitial to define some principles. The next three are ones that came to mind quickly.
We need to go to 0% CO2 emissions by 2050 (if not much earlier), we also need to drastically reduce methane emissions. Probably a few more gasses that aren’t so front and center. Any reduction helps, also if it’s only because you stop eating meat.
This problem is so urgent, that I’m going to be very pragmatic about it. If a certain technology or solution has side effects that we might have questions about, I feel it should still be a viable alternative. Think nuclear, which relatively is so clean and so safe that it’s quite rediculous that we’ve blocked it out just because of an (irrational) fear. Sure we’ll sometimes create some externalities for future generations, but they will all be dwarfed by the externality that is climate change of more than 2 degrees warmth. It should go without saying that these should be looked at and avoided if remotely possible, but in the end I think pragmatism wins here.
I will not discuss whether or not climate change is real, whether it’s because of humans or not or anything like this. There’s more than enough discussions on this, I will not spent more energy on the debate. Besides, the innovation (both technically, policy-wise and societal) necessary is desirable whether you believe in climate change or not.
There’s only one planet 🌍 (at least realistically for now). So let’s protect it!