Shaping The Future - From Pandemic To Climate Change
By Nick Breeze
Interviews with environmental / climate change experts discussing the choices we collectively face in determining what future we will shape for ourselves, future generations and all other life within the biosphere. The podcast is produced by Nick Breeze and hosted on the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series website, climateseries.com, as an appendage to the series that itself in jeopardy due to the disruptive nature of the pandemic.
Prof. Jason Box: "It's not too hyperbolic to talk about Mad Max!"
Welcome to Shaping The Future Podcast. In this episode, I am speaking to Professor Jason Box at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. We are discussing how the colossal Greenland ice sheet is changing as the Earth warms and what impact this will have on the global climate system.
So much of Jason’s work bridges the void between climate science in obscure corners of the planet, and the risks posed by pollution from industry, as well as how we in wealthier countries conduct our lives.
Shaping the future means envisioning the world we want and committing to a pathway to achieve it. In that vane, we end this discussion by considering the social movements that are emerging as part of the growing awareness of the necessity to change.
Thank you for listening, please do subscribe on whatever podcast channel you use to hear more forthcoming episodes.
Welcome to Shaping The Future climate change podcast - In this episode, I speak with Professor Kevin Anderson who is Deputy Director of the UK’s Tyndale Centre for climate change research, he is also a part-time professor at the University of Uppsala in Sweden and even squeezes in a day a week at a university in Norway.
In this episode, we discuss who are the culprits of climate action failure, how coronavirus has shown us we are all equal in society and how solving current inequality is an essential component of solving the climate crisis.
In picking these complex topics apart, we discuss the evolving role of civil society and climate activism by academics that is actually reinforcing the status quo and committing us to fail on our Paris commitments.
Kevin, like Katharine Hayhoe in the previous episode, highlights the job losses and those suffering in industries that are high polluting but nonetheless provide incomes for families. In terms of post-lockdown, Kevin emphasises that it is a choice whether we go back to high emitting business as usual.
Importantly Kevin is not confident that we can hold the temperature rise to 1.5ºC and that it would require serious mitigation efforts combined with effective carbon drawdown technologies (that do not currently exist) in order to achieve it.
Most of all we have to take on board that change in society required to meet these emission reduction challenges are only needed by the top ten per cent. The majority of people are not emitting high amounts of carbon. This again feeds into the need for an agenda of equality and a new narrative of fairness that perhaps the pandemic can make us more aware of.
In the next episode in the series, I will be speaking to Professor Jason Box from the Geological Survey of Denmark. Jason is a Greenland ice sheet expert and is going to share his insights into the changes happening in Greenland and the impact this could have on the overall climate system.
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Professor Katharine Hayhoe is well-known the world over for her clear communications on the risks posed by climate change and why these risks and can be addressed in a non-political and non-partisan way. Katharine is an atmospheric scientist, the Political Science Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law at Texas Tech University in the US and directs their Climate Center.
Life on Zoom
In the period of lockdown, Katharine discusses how technology has played a critical role human interactions, from the emotional experience of her grandmother's death to more passive interactions such as knitting or just staying in touch with family and friends. This all leads her to rename social distancing so it becomes physical distancing with social connectivity.
COVID-19 and carbon emissions
There is much talk about how the pandemic is good for the environment but, as Katharine points out, this has to be taken in context.
Because we are not pumping out so much pollution as normal, we are still adding to the atmospheric burden of greenhouse gases.
Air quality linked to human suffering
Another linkage from the pandemic pause is the cleaner air that has been a tangible benefit of reducing nearly all transport to a small fraction of what it was before.
Low-balling climate change
Climate scientists have always produced scenarios based on different estimates of outcomes from climate forcing and Earth system sensitivity. Katharine explains how typically scientists have been low-balling the speed and severity of climate change.
The 3 choices that humanity has to select from are mitigation, adaptation, or suffering. It turns out we will likely be forced to select all three but the balance of each is still up to us. Katharine gives her view on how this current crisis informs us to best face the future.
Climate change and politics
In the US and UK especially, climate change has been forced into a political framing in order to try and make conservatives think that the threat is not real or very serious.
Now, with impacts so tangibly in our faces, from the loss of the polar ice caps and ice sheets like in Greenland, or the fires in the Amazon, Australia among many other places, people are realising this is real and anxiety about the future is commonplace. What can we do about it?
The world won’t end in 2030
There is an emerging narrative that if the world does not decarbonise by 2030 then we will experience the apocalypse. Katharine Hayhoe discusses the importance of having a vision of the future that balances the reality of climate change with the outcome that we want to see and that we can collectively and individually work towards.
Collapsing oil, personal suffering and policy
Katharine discusses how the collapse of the oil price is impacting thousands of people in the oil industry who are losing their jobs and facing financial hardship in a very uncertain time. These are not bad people but rather a part of our society who are trying to support their families. What can we do to help them transition to new sectors?
Despite this, lobbyists for oil-producing regions like Alberta in Canada are trying to roll back environmental taxes aimed at starting the transition to clean energy. Katharine explains why carbon taxes are still part of the solution, perhaps more so than ever before.
Official webpage: https://climateseries.com/climate-change-podcast