Combating climate change requires a new way of thinking
Article is published by Aurora magazine (University Of Turku)
The first IPCC assessment report in 1990 stated that if greenhouse gas emissions increase at the current rate, the average global temperature in 2100 will be about 3 ° C higher than in the pre-industrial period.
The latest assessment report a couple of years ago, wiser than thousands of scientific studies, says the same thing in slightly different words: the temperature at the end of the century will probably be 2-4 ° C higher than pre-industrial.
So we have had at least 30 years of researched knowledge about the speed and impact of climate change, and time to react. But when not.
It was not until 2015 that the Paris climate talks reached an agreement to halt the rise in global average temperatures to below two degrees. Despite the agreement, the global emissions trend curve still points stubbornly to the northeast.
The IPCC Special Report on the 1.5-Degree World, released in October 2018, finally seems touchingly deep. We are reaching the limits of the earth. A two degree rise in temperature will revolutionize the world as we know it. According to some scenarios, it could be enough to derail the Earth into a self-directed warming spiral. The complex connections between changes in ice and vegetation cover, the melting of permafrost, and the circulatory movements of the seas raise global temperature readings that humanity – including the earliest ancestors – has never experienced. Recovery would take millennia regardless of emission reductions.
And it’s not just about the climate. The boundaries of the planet are ticking, especially in terms of biodiversity loss and disruption of the nitrogen and phosphorus cycle.
Based on hard facts, the scientific community has repeatedly warned against crossing borders. It is therefore pointless to blame the lack of information for the lack of information.
Or is it? Although there is a huge amount of information, the most important thing is yet to be learned: what should be done? The world is big and changes are happening secretly. Individuals, companies and societies do not have a full understanding of the global consequences of their actions, the complex interconnections of different sectors. In addition, the lack of understanding is often spiced up with selfishness and indifference.
If the answer were easy, it would have already been invented. Alongside traditional information production, something completely new is needed – a new kind of thinking and action, innovative connections not only between different disciplines but also between actors. We need to define prosperity and competitiveness in a new way. The scale must extend from individuals to societies, from local to global. We have nothing to lose, for the world will never be finished. This is a question worth a better future, right for the university.
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