It’s not too late

In the run up to COP26, the University of Edinburgh has had a series of conversations with researchers about how to make the world a better place through our actions, activities, innovation, research, teaching and learning. I agreed to be involved in one about why it’s not too late. It was hosted by Susan Morrison, and also included Elizabeth Bomberg, a political scientist, and Richard Milne, a plant biologist.

All the conversations were posted live to youtube, and you can find the series here, and our conversation here. We also producedk a few short videos that were shown during the conversation. I produced a short one about that tried to explain why it isn’t too late. I’ve posted a lin to it below, but bear in mind that I was trying to explain climate change, net zero, carbon budgets, feedbacks, runaway, and tipping points, in less than 4 minutes.

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19 Responses to It’s not too late

  1. I’ve been trying to embed the short video at the end, but I can’t seem to get that to work, even though there is an embed code.

  2. Jim Hunt says:

    Does this work on here?

  3. Jim,
    Yes, that does work. But, I was trying to embed the short video clip that I did for this.

  4. Willard says:

    I tried with this link:

    WP told me “Upgrade your plan to use this premium block.”

    It might not have worked, as the file format was not supported.

  5. russellseitz says:

    Many who went to COP 23 to make the world a better place through their actions left Paris wishing they stayed home. There is hope fewer will depart COP26 in that sad state, for it’s a lot harder to get excited about a trip to Glasgow than a Parisian interlude.

  6. Russell,
    There’s nothing wrong with Glasgow 🙂

  7. Jim Hunt says:

    ATTP – Re your 8PM, you could always adjust the YouTube start time to your liking, and instruct viewers to hit pause once your piece has finished?

    Russell – BoJo should’ve plumped for Cornwall again, where at least the water is warmer:

    What’s more a pukka Cornish pasty washed down by a glass of St. Austell Brewery’s finest Tribute ale makes for far better dining than anything Paris (or indeed Glasgow!) has to offer:

  8. You are right. It is not to late. The general picture is way to pessimistic. Business as Usual is by to many people seen as a scenario in which we do nothing to reduce CO2-emission. This is of course totaly wrong. CO2-emissions in the UK are way lower then they use to be en the economy did not collaps. There is way for optimistic outlooks. Windmills are no longer the realm of hippies who want to save the mother Earth. It is a big business billion pound market and expending. Also look on electric vehicles. The are the top of new car sales. Tesla is a 1000 bilion carmaker. Room for optimist because room to make profits. The brightest people on our planet are extremely motivated to make a lot of money and do good. Let them do so. Only they can make the difference.

  9. Raymond,
    It is indeed clear that we are making progress. However, the current commitments are still not even to keep warming below 2C and are probably not enough to guarantee that we won’t warm by > 4C. So, yes, it’s not too late, but it’s later than we might like and there is still plenty more to do if warming is to be limited to < 2C.

  10. russellseitz says:

    Quite right, ATTP & Jim. Though I’ve never been there, I hear its museums are enviable, and for all I know it may be as pleasant as Manchester without the Guardian

  11. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Does Fischetti’s analysis of what lies ahead align with yours?

    There’s Still Time to Fix Climate—About 11 Years

    Aggressive policies, now, can extend the deadline and prevent the worst catastrophes.

    – Mark Fischetti, Environment, Scientific American, Oct 27, 2021

  12. JH,
    Yes, that article seems to be saying things that are very similar to what I was saying. Stopping global warming requires getting (net) emissions to zero, we can still avoid warming beyond 1.5C (although very challenging) and if we do fall to do this, every small amount of extra warming matters, so we shouldn’t simply give up.

  13. verytallguy says:

    I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it will *never* be too late, and every atom of carbon that remains in the ground helps.

    There is no hard cut-off beyond which climate change is “done”, or in “runaway” and we might as well let it rip. Indeed the opposite is true: damages are almost certainly highly non-linear so it becomes increasingly important to reduce emissions the more cumulative emissions go.

    I do think the “act now because it will be too late in 10 years time” narrative is counterproductive.

    “Everything we can possibly do now helps” would be better.

    Equally, emissions reductions are a win-win: “fossil fuels are finite so will run out, and are polluting in other ways too”

  14. Brandon Gates says:

    AT, you did very well summarizing the issues in your four-minute video. You are as engaging a lecturer as a blogger. I reckon that peddling fatalism is one of the more potent contrarian delaying tactics because it tacitly accepts the scientific consensus … but China … game over.

    Also what VTG said.

  15. russellseitz says:

    I did not mean to suggest that story-telling collectives. scientific or contrarian are not politically potent .

    That is, instead, their fatal attraction.

  16. vtg,

    I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it will *never* be too late, and every atom of carbon that remains in the ground helps.

    Indeed, I did stress that “every tonnes matters” in the conversation 🙂


  17. Chubbs says:

    Yes, its not too late. However, it is later than many people think. We benefit from vestiges of our old climate: oceans, ice sheets, glaciers, permafrost etc; that are slow to change and far from equilibrium. We also perceive the future as being like the past. Sort of like the temperature normals which are based on the past 30 years. There is uncertainty about the future, but safe to say it won’t be “normal”.

  18. David B Benson says:

    Not too late for Bangladesh?
    Not too late for the Mekong River Delta, i.e., the lowest third of southern Vietnam?

  19. David,
    Indeed, it’s probably too late to avoid some of the impacts. The main point was that it’s not too late to avoid making them worse and that the more that is done to limit the total amount that is emitted, the greater the chance we have of avoiding some of the more extreme impacts.

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