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Claim it, change


The Earth needs our help to keep us alive

A FEW WEEKS ago, the IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the official United Nations body responsible for delivering scientific assessments regarding the Earth’s climate change progression to the world’s policy makers — released its sixth assessment report. Also known as the Climate Change Report of 2021: the Physical Science Basis, it was prepared by 234 scientists from 64 countries and published last Aug. 8.

According to the report, climate change is now “widespread, rapid and intensifying.” It can now be observed in every region of the planet and across the entire climate system. Some of these changes in motion — such as the continuous rise of our sea levels — are, in fact, already irreversible and cannot be back-pedaled for centuries to come. And while I doubt that this is anything that a part of us didn’t already know (but which many of us certainly chose to ignore), the take-home here is that basically, there is still time to limit this climate change. Think damage control.

And if we do things right, maybe in around 20 to 30 years we could at least take control in stabilizing our planet’s already higher temperatures. Again, I’d like to emphasize that the realistic goal at this point in time is not even a complete turnaround, but rather some kind of catastrophe mitigation.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a statement published on Twitter, described this 2021 Climate Change Report as “a code red for humanity.” He said: “The evidence is irrefutable — greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet and placing billions of people in danger. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible. We must act decisively now to avert a climate catastrophe.”

What does this mean for regular citizens such as ourselves? Clearly, we are at the mercy of the decisions made by our world’s policy makers. But sadly, we remain in direct risk of the consequences of the continuous rise of the earth’s temperatures. Has it not been commonplace in the last few months to hear more and more news about extreme and unprecedented weather and environmental events, such as the unanticipated and extreme flooding in southern Germany, the wildfires in Turkey, and last week’s hurricane Ida in the United States, whose stormy outskirts also left New York City drowning in one of its worst floods ever?

Human-accelerated climate change is real. The science has already etched it into stone. Scientists from all over the world have congregated, deliberated, and concluded that “the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed.”

This congregation of scientists has warned us yet again that, at our current pace, global warming of 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century. The goal is for us to at least not surpass 1.5°C. And needless to say, it is up to us, collectively, to determine our fate.

Mr. Guterres reminds us that “inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage.”

What does this mean in the motoring world? Well, it’s looking like a more aggressive shift from fossil fuel dependent machinery towards battery electric vehicles and other vehicles powered by more (relatively) sustainable energy sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells.

The use of fuel-cell electric vehicles is quite promising because upon taking compressed hydrogen gas stored on board and combining it with oxygen from the air, the chemical process results in the production of electrical power plus water and nitrogen, which can then be released from the car. No oxides of nitrogen are produced, and because there is no carbon in the fuel in the first place, there are no carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or hydrocarbon emissions involved. Clearly, this is no silver bullet, but among the massive efforts of the automotive industry to attempt going carbon neutral.

Ultimately, what the IPCC scientists underscore is that we have to more aggressively raise our ambitions to mitigate what is happening. So, let’s see what will come out of this November’s climate conference in Glasgow, UK — and hope that more economies will join the net-zero emissions coalition and their pledges in slowing down global warming.