David Wallace-Wells isn’t known as the most positive commentator on climate, so it’s both surprising and… more credible (?) when he comes up with something like a hopeful view on the topic. The gist of it is probably this: “recent climate action has apparently lowered the ceiling of possible warming this century, long delays have raised the floor.” Meaning that through the falling price of renewable, the number of canceled coal mines rising almost as quickly, peaking oil, and serious action by a few countries, states, and cities, some of the worst-case scenarios seem to have been dodged. Through new policies quickened (made possible?) by the pandemic, low scenarios are newly more attainable, though still hard to reach. It’s a long read and it’s not all rosy (“warming in the global South, Kolbert says, will be ‘an unmitigated disaster.’”) but in a week where clouds have parted a bit, it’s on theme.
It is as if we have landed on a different planet, with a different climate, and are now trying to determine what aspects of the civilizations we’ve brought with us can survive these new conditions, what will have to be adapted, and what discarded. […]
Those models suggest unmitigated warming could cost global GDP more than 20% of its value by the end of the century; limit warming to two degrees and climate change would still kill as many people each year as COVID-19 has. You don’t do adaptation on top of that, Hsiang said. Those figures already reflect the adaptation. […]
This is what climate advocates mean when they talk about managing a “just transition,” and, in recent years, they have broached the thorny subject of adaptation through the language of climate justice: Who is protected? Who is exposed? At what cost? And to whom?