One recent token recognition of climate change as an emergency is by the UK Parliament. (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48126677) Let’s see if they actually do anything. Many of the cities and towns there are aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030. The US, on the other hand, at the federal level at least, is doing its best to act in a way to worsen climate change effects.
That’s why I’ve been so thrilled to see people from the age of 10 to 40 acting as aggressively, in a non-violent way, about climate change as my generation did about the Viet Nam war. After all, they’re the ones who will have to live with our failures to change. Bravo. Now all we have to do is change to publicly funded election rather than encouraging large contributions by entities trying to preserve the status quo and we’ll make some some real progress.
Note: Bill McKibben is revered among those concerned about climate change. He was definitely one of the earlier alarmists (or alarm is what it looked like then).
Millennials and Gen Z are finally gaining ground in the climate battle — here are the signs they’re winning
- In the last eight months, global agreement about the need to address climate change has skyrocketed, according to environmental activist and author Bill McKibben.
- Much of the push to do something about the climate problem has been spearheaded by young people.
- Worldwide climate strikes and the Green New Deal are just two pieces of evidence that these efforts are having an effect.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
News on the climate change front is dire. The oceans are hotter than they’ve been in recorded history. Last year was the fourth-warmest year on record. Greenland’s ice is melting six times faster than it did in the 1980s, and sea-level rise is already affecting coastal economies.
But amidst these concerning trends, there is still cause for hope, according to environmental activist and author Bill McKibben.
McKibben, who founded the climate organization 350.org, recently published a new book called “Falter.” He told Business Insider that his hopefulness comes from seeing millennials and Gen Zers push for action across the globe. This younger generation overwhelmingly favors policies and initiatives that reduce carbon emissions. A 2018 Pew study showed that 81% of millennials believe the planet is indeed warming, and that 65% of those millennials say human activity is the primary cause. That’s about 10% more than the general public. Millennials also factor climate change into their decisions at the polls, according to the Pew data.
In the last eight months, McKibben said, the mainstream tide has seemed to shift in the climate change battle, toward a position more closely aligned with that of young people. The belief that governments should take more initiative in addressing the climate threat has started to permeate across the globe.
In this recent time period, there have been worldwide climate strikes, a burgeoning Green New Deal in the US Congress, and the nomination of a 16-year-old climate activist for the Nobel prize.
“We’re in a climate moment right now,” McKibben told Business Insider, adding, “All these things started to combine to produce this new moment where people are open to change.”
Here are the reasons McKibben thinks young people are gaining ground in the fight.
McKibben pointed to the October 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the catalyst for this current “climate moment.”
Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderAccording to that report, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would necessitate “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in energy sources, infrastructure, industry, and transportation. Carbon emissions would have to drop by 45% from 2010 levels in the next decade or so.
If that doesn’t happen, dry regions would be much more likely to experience severe drought, and areas prone to heat waves or intense hurricanes would get more of those disasters, too. Most coral reefs would die, and melting Arctic ice would cause sea levels to rise dramatically. These changes could trigger huge migrations of people and mass extinctions of animals.
The IPCC suggested we’ll see those effects in just over 20 years unless major changes are implemented. The report “reflected a new urgency,” McKibben said.
Shortly after that report came out, California was hit by the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. For McKibben, that fire might have pushed our collective psyche over the edge.
Ringo H.W. Chiu/APThe Camp fire destroyed 240 square miles of forest and towns in November 2018. It leveled the town of Paradise and caused $16.5 billion in damages.
The severity of the Camp Fire was linked to climate change, since a shortage of rainfall and drier autumn conditions in California gave the flames more fuel. Indeed, 12 of the 15 biggest fires in California’s history have occurred since the year 2000.
“When you watch a city called Paradise literally turn into hell inside half an hour, it’s hard to unsee it,” McKibben said.
Noah Berger/APAccording to the US National Climate Assessment — the fourth in an ongoing series of climate reports mandated by a 1990 law — the area of the western US burned by wildfire from 1984 to 2015 was twice the amount that would have burned without any climate change.