There’s a lot of hard-hitting, rather depressing news about the climate:
The United States has published its “gold standard” climate report – a major assessment on the climate crisis, required by law, which comes around every five years or so. It involves hundreds of scientists and experts, resulting in a clear – and alarming – insight into how rising global temperatures are impacting America today, and what the future will hold. Among the findings is one which perhaps feels intuitive, but can no longer be overlooked. While all Americans are being impacted by climate change, it is the “underserved and overburdened” that are being harmed the most.
We are still getting used to a “new normal” of devastating summer heatwaves. But the effects of a warming climate are being felt throughout the year, and recent autumn months have been further off the charts than ever. In fact, climate change and an El Niño have both contributed to the world in 2023 having its hottest autumn since records began in 1850. September was 0.93°C above the 1991-2020 average, and a whole 1.75°C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial reference period. October was also the hottest on record, at 0.85°C above the recent average. This hot autumn has already meant stronger storms and more intense rainfall and droughts. And this in turn affects farming, energy, tourism and other sectors that depend on reliable seasons.
But there’s actually a lot of hard-hitting, very inspiring news about the climate that gets drowned out:
Between wildfires, floods, and other disasters, climate change is in the news nearly every day. And it will get even more attention late this month as we approach COP, the United Nations’ annual global meeting on climate change.
I hope you take a positive message away from COP, because there are more reasons to be hopeful than many people realize—and it’s not just that renewable energy sources like wind and solar are getting cheaper. And it’s not just because many of the steps already taken to reduce carbon emissions are working: Carbon emissions from fossil fuels will probably peak in 2025.
The main thing that makes me optimistic is all the innovation I’m seeing. As someone who has been funding climate solutions for years, I get to learn from ingenious scientists who are working on ideas that will help the world solve climate change. And their work makes me confident that innovation will help the world get on track to meet its climate goals. Some people are skeptical when a technology person like me says innovation is the answer. And it’s true that new tools aren’t the only thing we need. But we won’t solve the climate problem without them.