Thoughts at the beginning of 2020

At the beginning of this 2020 and with the prospect of giving presentations on the climate emergency for a wide range of audiences, I find myself a bit in a crisis. The problem is not WHAT to say, it is rather HOW to say it.

How can we talk about the climate emergency so that something can click in the mind of people: young and old, aware or not, responsible or not, powerful or not? During the whole year of 2020 all those people will have to put pressure on their governments so that at the end of the year the climate emergency is taken for serious. The UN climate meeting in Glasgow in Dec. 2020 is indeed the moment in which governments will have the opportunity to make the required stronger pledges to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and be in line with the objectives of the Paris Accord of 2015.

What can be the consistent thread through my presentations? What will be my attitude? It has become increasingly hard to remain optimistic. How to explain that there are reasons to be POSSIBILISTIC: that we can still control climate change and prevent its most catastrophic effects if at all levels people take the right decisions?

Depending on the audience and the time available I can emphasis the role of SCIENCE. That climatologists, already 40 years ago, were able to predict the changes in the climate that we experience today. That therefore we better take for serious the DIRE PREDICTIONS that climatologists make for the coming 40 years, if we do not act. I must emphasis the fact that current climate change is DUE TO US, and that this poses immediately the ETHICAL PROBLEM: who are we (we Homo Sapiens, we in the rich part of the world, we adults) that we can ruin the habitat and life of others (forests and animals, people in the poor parts of the world, our children)? I can emphasis that avoiding the worst climate change scenario’s is possible through a TRANSTION in how we produce and consume things. That there are a lot of OPPORTUNITIES in making that transition happen in an orderly fashion.

One thread will be that it is in fact stimulating, not to say fantastic, to be around in a time in which everything is changing and needs to be changed. That we need not only engineers, but creatives of all sorts: scientist, artists, educators, politicians,… who help and build A NEW NARRATIVE for our species. And maybe we won’t stay below 1,5 degrees global warming, but in trying we will undoubtedly have made the world a more just and better place. And after all, the fulfillment will be in the trying: the way is more important than the goal.