Environment Science Society

Last chance on climate

Replied to Scientists deliver ‘final warning’ on climate crisis: act now or it’s too late by Fiona Harvey (The Guardian)

In sober language, the IPCC set out the devastation that has already been inflicted on swathes of the world. Extreme weather caused by climate breakdown has led to increased deaths from intensifying heatwaves in all regions, millions of lives and homes destroyed in droughts and floods, millions of people facing hunger, and “increasingly irreversible losses” in vital ecosystems.

I’ve dedicated my career to the environment, and particularly climate change. I studied ecology in college — the systems of nature that surround us. I consider it tragic when species that have developed over millenia to be specialized to their niche — a perfect puzzle piece in their ecosystem, complementing the other plants and animals there — are dying out because climate change and habitat destruction are occurring too fast for them to keep up. These intricately balanced systems are devastating to lose. Each species a wonder of nature that can never come back once it’s gone.

Species coming and going is the natural way of things, of course, but the rate of change is stupendous, and this time it’s caused by humanity.

We like to think we’ve made progress since the 1800s, but we have not when it comes to our perspectives on the value of ecosystems: we see their value as extractive, with anything not monetizable easy to dismiss.

I will keep hoping and working to stave off the worst. But I believe we’re locked in to at least 1.5c.

I try to always keep an upbeat attitude when talking about the environment because when people get too bummed out they give up on doing anything or feel disempowered — and every partial degree increase we can prevent actually does make a meaningful difference (even if we can’t hit 1.5, 2c would be much better than 2.5c or 3c! Especially if we want to avoid positive feedback loops of warming.). But an insistence on relentless positivity is toxic. Our society doesn’t make time to feel — emotions get in the way of productivity — so I wanted to counter that and take a moment to mourn.




And now, I can return to the long effort.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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