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As a climate scientist of more than 25 years, I'm proud of the work my profession has done in recent decades to alert humanity to the unfolding climate crisis. But as the emergency becomes ever more acute, we scientists need to alter the way we approach it—or face being part of the problem.
Climate science has in large part been a remarkable success story. Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius accurately calculated how much a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would warm the planet as early as 1896.
Charney - Report - Concerns - Climate - Crisis
The 1979 Charney report raised concerns about an impending climate crisis long before we could directly evidence it. In response, the scientific community stepped up its research efforts, and has been conducting regular scientific assessments to build a consensus view, and send a strong message to policy makers to spur them into action.
The problem is that 40 years of these efforts, however well-intentioned, have not had any impact on the carbon course of humanity. Since the middle of the 19th century, CO₂ emissions from human activities have been growing exponentially, on average by 1.65% per year since 1850.
Times - Hardships - Emissions - Oil - Price
There were times when economic hardships temporarily stalled emissions, such as the oil price shocks of the early 1980s, the collapse of the Soviet block, and the 2008 financial crisis. But these had nothing to do with climate policy.
If we continue this exponential rise for just five more years, we will have already exhausted the carbon allowance that gives us a two-thirds chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. That's according to the IPCC, the UN body responsible for communicating the science of climate breakdown. Other scientists estimate that we have already missed the boat.
Sluggishness - Fault - Scientists - Crisis - Approach
Our painful sluggishness to act is not the fault of scientists. But the crisis is now more urgent than ever, and our current approach...
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