Blog – Climate change will destroy us… so what can we do about it?

Pollution from factories such as this one are fueling climate change which threatens all life. In this picture, smoke billows from smokestacks and a coal fired generator at a steel factory in China, in 2015. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Climate change exacerbates the weather phenomena around the world in different ways.

We get plenty of snow, somewhere else there are more hurricanes. Climate change also seems to exacerbate opinions on what we could do about it. We know that the greenhouse gases already released into the atmosphere will warm up and change our climate for a long time to come, even if we were to stop emitting them right now. Currently, the emissions just keep on rising.

Is there anything we could still do to combat climate change?

Doctor Mayer Hillman does not spare his words in an interview to The Guardian. According to him, we will have to accept that because of climate change much of life on Earth will be destroyed – including us humans. He does not believe that there is any sense in keeping up hope. Instead, he recommends the opposite: let us give up hope! We will be destroyed.

When we admit that we are doomed, we can wake up. He believes that accepting that we are doomed could make humanity rather like an individual who learns that they are dying. Only by admitting that we are terminally ill, can we start acting as people who learn that the Grim Reaper is approaching. We will start trying to prolong our lives. We will start to actually combat climate change.

Can technology be a game-changer?

Hillman’s views are not mainstream science. Yet many scientists working with climate change have lost their hope in combatting climate change with political decisions. Many find that we will have to start reflecting on other ways. One key way is changing the climate with the help of technology – geoengineering.

Ice researchers at the Arctic Centre, Professor John C. Moore and Doctor Rupert Gladstone with their colleagues published a comment on one of the opportunities in the journal Nature. As the polar caps melt, the sea levels will rise everywhere. According to them, we could buy time by preventing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica from flowing into the oceans. In their comment, the researchers suggest various means of carrying this out.

I think the approach adopted by the mainstream researchers is the right one. We must invest in political processes, but we must also examine the methods of geoengineering. Taking action against climate change is not as sluggish as one could imagine by observing only Trump, Putin and Xi. Even though Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, people in the U.S. are constantly working to combat climate change in states, cities and companies. Climate lawsuits filed against governments are soaring.

The game is not over! We do have hope!

This blog first appeared on the blog Kaikuja Arktikselta – Arctic Echoes.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: World maritime body moves to ban dirty fuels in the Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland: Pollution, education and climate change resilience top agenda of Arctic Council meeting in Finland, Radio Canada International

Iceland: Environmental groups call on Arctic cruise industry to reduce pollution in Iceland, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: In Arctic Norway, seabirds build nests out of plastic waste, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian Navy sends clean-up team to Arctic trash dump, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden could be a model of sustainability, says environment professor, Radio Sweden

United States: Washington urged to cancel offshore plans in Arctic, Alaska Public Media

Timo Koivurova

Timo Koivurova is a research professor and director of the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland) in Finland. He specializes in international law, climate change, maritime policy, the Arctic Council and the legal status of Indigenous Peoples. He is co-editor of the book Arctic Law and Governance: The Role of China and Finland.

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