12. Rethinking Climate Change
Climate change is so often framed as a problem for “our kids and our grandkids,” and that’s true, but climate change is also here right now, and it’s causing a lot of problems. We’ll take a look at a few of the countless problems climate change causes today, and how we can better conceptualize climate change as we move forward and try to adapt to these issues. With special guest Dr. Adil Najam: Inaugural Dean of the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies and co-author of the Third and Fourth Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, work for which the panel was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
My goal with The Sweaty Penguin was to make environmental issues less depressing and more exciting. To see them as opportunities and not catastrophes. Because they are opportunities, and if we can look past the depressing parts, the environment provides so many ways to innovate and improve our health, economies, and livelihoods.
This week might have been depressing though. And for that, I apologize. I only say it’s depressing because it addresses a misconception: that climate change is a future problem. It is, but it’s also a current one. And if we kick the can down the road, we’re just in denial. It’s no longer all about decarbonization, it’s about figuring out how to live in a screwed up world. And that’s depressing. I get it. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around too.
But I promise you, even this is an opportunity. If we rise to the challenge, we can protect ourselves from floods and natural disasters. If we rise to the challenge, we can develop emerging regions using the innovations that we’ve concocted in places like the United States. If we rise to the challenge, we can create better lives for the folks fleeing regions facing floods, wildfires, and droughts. It’s not easy, but once we wrap our head around it, we absolutely can do these things.
I knew this on some level, but talking to Dean Najam really made it sink in. My conversation with Dean Najam was one of the most interesting half hours of my life. He reminded me that climate change is here now, and convinced me that even this is an opportunity. I was a bit starstruck talking to someone on the IPCC Nobel Prize winning team, and feel so honored to have had the chance to talk to him.
This episode is a lot to take in, so I hope you’ll just focus on one thing: climate change is here now. Start talking about it with the present tense. That small change will hopefully help it sink in for all of us, and if we can grasp this new reality, who knows what we can achieve!