What I Think About When I Think About Climate Change

Do you know how we should fix climate change? Which paths should we take? Is it enough to electrify industries on a 100% renewable grid where everyone is driving EVs? Or will geoengineering and large carbon sequestration projects be required? These problems are nuanced, and as you dig deeper increase in that nuance and complexity. For example, if we decide that a 100% renewable grid is part of a suitable solution — the specifics on how we get there is currently murky.

Pragmatically how are we meant to implement these solutions? Climate change is a Wicked Problem where collective action is required, yet there are many incentives for groups of every size to not cooperate. Governments, legal systems, society at large will be essential to the solution and thought needs to be taken as to how best mobilise these systems.

I am woefully underinformed on this problem. I know most of the low hanging technical fruit that can be worked on right now, but I don’t have a good handle on what longer term paths could be, or how non-technical parts of the solution can play a role.

I think climate change may be the most interesting systematic challenge humans have ever face, so this year I will be focusing more on the nooks and crannies of that system.

As a starting point here are some resources I’m looking at:

Revolution Justified

The author Roger Cox used legal means to force the government of the Netherlands to achieve certain emission reduction targets. This was a landmark case for Climate Justice and I suspect we’re currently underutilising legal and regulatory systems to achieve results like this. Roger takes the view that “Our best hope of averting dangerous climate change and breaking the status quo in the energy world is the law”.

Drawdown

The subtitle is “The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Roll Back Global Warming” and lays out many of the potential solutions out there in an easy to understand way. I feel the default way to think about mitigating climate change is to burn less fossil fuels, but many of the high impact solutions proposed here are unrelated to that.

Energy and Civilisation: A History

Inuitively I understand that energy is important, but oh boy this really lays out how pivotal energy has been to human development, and how our relationship to it has changed over time.

Windfarm