By Herb Simmens
Yet another Climate Conference of the Parties - the 28th - this past December in Dubai has ended with no commitment or effective strategy by humanity’s leaders to prevent a catastrophic increase in climate extremes.
The world continues to experience a relentless increase in average and extreme temperatures every year - much beyond what scientists and scientific models projected or expected. We now have to use previously unfamiliar terms to describe today’s new world - atmospheric rivers, sunny day flooding, rain bombs, derechos, flash droughts and many more. No place, no time of year and no person is immune from the severe direct and indirect impacts of a scorching planet.
Even worse our top scientists are telling the world that the planet is on the verge of experiencing a variety of largely irreversible and truly catastrophic climate tipping points at or around a temperature increase of 1.5° C - the exact temperature the world is on the verge of breaching this decade.
Yet humanity continues to focus largely on just one remedy - emission reductions - despite the fact that 30 years of planetary effort and trillions of dollars has only resulted in emissions continuing to increase.
Even if ‘successful’, reducing emissions - necessary as that is - by itself only slightly reduces the increase in temperatures and impacts. The sharply elevated temperatures and impacts in existence at the time that emissions are ended would persist for literally centuries resulting in a world that no one alive should have to or would choose to experience.
There is a better way and that is to restore a safe and healthy planet for future generations by bringing temperature increases back down to a benign and livable level such as we experienced in the 20th century.
Achieving this existentially critical goal requires however that humanity deploy at the speed and scale needed the Climate Triad - a combination of accelerated emission reductions, large scale removal of the carbon from the atmosphere that is the proximate cause of the climate crisis, and yes, most controversially the institution of a portfolio of techniques that can safely directly cool the planet.
A number of approaches have the promise to rapidly - in years not decades - and inexpensively achieve this goal by reflecting small amounts of sunlight away from the planet, restoring degraded ecosystems and through other means.
These cooling techniques require urgent research and development. Several organizations are working to promote support for climate restoration.
The world community must develop a plan of action that mobilizes the Climate Triad along with greatly enhanced adaptation with a goal of cooling the planet - let’s call it Cool Earth - by bringing temperature increases back down to well below 1° C well before the end of the century. Doing so would help ensure that both humanity and the natural world can be safe from climate extremes.
Such a climate restoration plan - developed with full participation by the world’s nations, particularly those least advantaged and financed by the world’s wealthiest countries - will demonstrate true climate justice by reducing harm and suffering to billions.
I recognize that this is a much more optimistic message and goal than world leaders have advocated for the past three decades. Therefore the reader may be skeptical and perhaps even dismissive of the promise of climate restoration.
These articles explain how and why humanity can and must move to a goal of climate restoration:
We need a broad-based movement to convince world leaders that this year’s Conference of the Parties meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan in November should embrace a call and plan for a healthy, cooler and restored climate - a Cool Earth - to be achieved well before the end of the century.
Future generations are counting on us to act now.
Later is too late.
For more information or to join the movement to restore a safe climate contact the organizations listed above or Herb Simmens at Hsimmens@gmail.com