By Richard Calland
History may in due course record 2019 as the year in which the penny finally dropped about the climate emergency humanity faces. A sense of urgency was triggered last year by both Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg’s courage in challenging world leaders to take the crisis seriously, and the apocalyptic fires that engulfed large parts of Australia recently.
Increasingly, there is an understanding that the climate emergency is not an environmental problem. It has grave ecological implications, but it’s a human development issue above all. And, it has profound implications for technology and infrastructure, for the world of investment and finance, and for global security.
To make sense of these challenges and work towards solutions, it is necessary to understand these links, tensions and trade-offs. This is why the international research organisation Future Earth has produced Our Future on Earth 2020. It’s a landmark new report of a dozen sustainability-focused essays. They are written by experts across academia and across the globe.
The consensus among scientists is that we are now in the eleventh hour. That humanity has just ten years to take the transformational steps necessary to avoid catastrophe.
Will it get its act together?
Unfortunately, there is a harsh political economy. My own contribution to the Our Future on Earth report focuses on the impact of the global rise in right-wing populism on climate action. Read more…