Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point

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When the IPCC released their special report into 1.5°C. at the start of October I noticed a lot of people expressing despair. It didn’t always devolve into fatalism, but it often did. And while I really do understand that response, it wasn’t mine. I was filled with hope reading the report and seeing the responses to it. We can do this.

Daniel Aldana Cohen at The Nation has done a great job summarising why I see the IPCC’s report as a fundamentally hopeful document:

We’re only doomed if we change nothing. The IPCC report makes it clear that if we make the political choice of bankrupting the fossil-fuel industry and sharing the burden of transition fairly, most humans can live in a world better than the one we have now. […]

Reporting on the IPCC, and climate change more broadly, is unbalanced. It’s fixated on the predictions of climate science and the opinions of climate scientists, with cursory gestures to the social, economic, and political causes of the problem. Yet analysis of these causes is as important to climate scholarship as modeling ice-sheet dynamics and sea-level rise. Reductionist climate reporting misses this. Many references to policy are framed in terms of carbon pricing. This endorses the prevailing contempt in establishment circles for people’s capacity to govern themselves beyond the restrictions of market rule. Meanwhile, the IPCC report is overflowing with analyses showing that we can avoid runaway climate change, improve most people’s lives, and prioritize equality through a broad set of interventions.

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