NYT - Finding the Will to Survive


Today's editorial in the New York Times questions whether the will to avert climate catastrophe exists and where it might be found.

We knew, three decades ago, about global warming and its consequences. We suspected, even then, that the potentially catastrophic future forecast in the I.P.C.C.’s latest report, released on Monday — a report the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, called a “code red for humanity” — could well come to pass.

What have we done with that knowledge? Very little, for lots of reasons. Timid leaders, feckless legislatures. Interminable arguments between rich and poor nations over who bears responsibility. Well-financed disinformation campaigns from big polluters like Exxon Mobil. On a purely human level, there’s the reluctance of people living worry-free in the here and now to make the investments and sacrifices necessary to protect future generations.

All in all, the past 30 years have been a colossal series of missed opportunities. Good ideas squandered. Time lost.

The Road to Glasgow.

The Washington Post has called this meeting a “moment of truth’’ for climate change. To anyone who has read the I.P.C.C. report, that is not journalistic hyperbole.

The report’s main points are these: First, nations have waited so long to curb emissions that a hotter future is essentially locked in, as are more droughts, more forest fires, more crippling heat waves, more sea level rise, more floods. The greenhouse gases that have already been pumped into the atmosphere are going to stay there a long time, inflicting misery for years to come.

This summer has already produced huge floods in Central Europe, Nigeria, Uganda and India, blazes in Greece and Siberia, wildfires erasing entire towns in California and Canada, murderous heat waves in the Pacific Northwest, the drying up of Colorado River reservoirs. “What more can numbers show us that we cannot already see?” asked one U.N. climate official. Fair question. But what the numbers show is that these meteorological calamities will become routine unless the world takes dramatic steps to get a grip on emissions.

The Times editors reduce the problem to one question - can the political will to avert climate catastrophe be found - now, not next year, not by 2030. It's a silly question. 


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