Updated: Nov 14
An IMPULSE TO THINK ABOUT.
Towards the Climate Youth Fund – Part I
And then Greta came along.
And that's when the language,
the perception became much sharper:
Yes, really: climate crisis.
This is really bad!
Alex Rühle of the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ)
wrote on 25.10.2019 in the "Climate Friday" newsletter
the very appropriate words on the above presentation of the
global average temperatures over the past 20,000 years:
The infographic "shows how we are currently catapulting ourselves out of the so-called Holocene, which provided us humans with a uniquely mild, homely environment for 12,000 years. Yes, you can basically imagine the shallow curve of the past 12,000 years as a gentle hill on whose back we were allowed to settle, always knowing that the climate is something stable, predictable – a basic prerequisite for making the future plannable at all. All the advanced civilisations of human history could only arise and develop on the back of this almost straight line. The almost insanely steep red-orange line, on the other hand, which shoots out of the chart at the right end of the curve, is reminiscent of a rocket or a pole vaulter's pole, in any case something that points to a completely uncontrollable future – and something on which nothing stable can stand. Never in the history of the earth has the average temperature apparently risen as fast as within the last hundred years."
Politics, do something!
Please do something!
And it does.
In some places even more.
But that's not what I meant,
it costs something.
And because it costs
– money, changed behaviour, even nerves –,
it quickly becomes controversial.
And that's why people argue.
Rather about small things than the very big issue.
And there's bargaining among the interest groups.
More is not possible.
That's what they say up and down the country.
From north to south.
From one continent to the next and back again.
There is only one way:
Step by step.
That's clear, isn't it?
Isn't that the most normal thing in the world
One step at a time.
No matter how small the step.
The most important thing is that it is a step.
But is it also normal
that the next 10 to 12 years will be decisive..,
for what awaits the grandchildren of today's adults in the future?
Have we ever had this before, all of us humans,
that our behaviour in the next few years
will decide the fate of our grandchildren?
And that ...
What awaits them, the grandchildren?
Something between self-determined good and right sh....
Sorry, that choice of words.
But it's true:
People are always beating 'around the mash'.
And they don't have their grandchildren's future in mind.
Most people beat 'around the mash'.
Man and woman,
young and old,
big and small.
Far too many.
Far too many.
We simply have to start.
– Start! –
What a mockery.
To start, after 40, even 50 years of knowledge about global warming.
It's like mocking our human knowledge.
A little bit is enough for now.
The conscience is calmed.
Or one flight less a year?
CO2-compensated. You can.
My climate and all that.
Or I could fly a little less
and buy a camper instead,
or convert an old bus into a mobile home,
It's very trendy right now.
Corona and all that.
That's how I discover the world,
the way it still is.
Or is this already an illusion?
And I am in the middle of it as an illusion driver?
If we only knew
what is already no longer
as it should be in the world!
who listens more carefully,
the words of those affected
already make you a little dizzy.
Spitsbergen ten years ago
is no longer comparable with Spitsbergen today.
Things are moving so rapidly.
The changes are dramatic.
"Meine Welt schmilzt"
(My world is melting)
is the title of a book,
a personal report from the Arctic
by Line Nagell Ylvisåker from the year 2020*.
Read it if you like.
Or, for example, the scientifically well-founded
"Nachruf auf die Arktis"
("Obituary of the Arctic")
by expedition guide Birgit Lutz, November 2020*:
"The change is now so fast, so obvious, you don't need any more comparisons with pictures from the previous century, and you don't need to know anything at all about glaciers, sea ice, climate change. A few years are enough now. One year is enough. And even as I write this, I learn: that's no longer true either. Months are enough now. [...] But after those first months of wonder and shock, so many other things happened in 2015 and 2016 that at some point a cold hand reached for my heart and a strange feeling spread through me. It was a little sadness, and when I listened more closely, it was fear. It was the dark anxious feeling that something has now begun that cannot be stopped. Something bigger than us, bigger than Spitsbergen, bigger than the Arctic. It was the feeling that now the whole world was up for it."
And the rest talk "around the mash".
But with all the talk,
all the fuss and no fuss,
a mash naturally ferments.
So fermenting aromas rise.
It stinks to heaven.
Like the melting permafrost.
Like on Spitsbergen.
It stinks too.
But not only that:
Birgit Lutz reports "tremendous erosion" that has set in,
and by that she also means what Line Nagell Ylvisåker describes:
with the mudslides
that have buried parts of her village Longyearbyen.
The permafrost is eroding.
Organic material rots,
before it shrinks,
releasing previously unknown microbes hidden in the ice,
and something else:
lots of methane.
So much methane.
And so much more aggressive than CO2.
Also called "climate killer".
It stinks to heaven.
But in the case of the global climate, the heaven is inexorable,
and the answer is simple, coming back at us from up there:
You must deliver, fast,
or suffer the consequences.
What we are prepared to deliver
and what we should deliver
are far apart.
The hope is: STILL.
Because we can STILL turn the wheel.
But not for everything.
To be clear,
there are things that are already irrevocably lost.
Birgit Lutz again:
"Every time I am allowed to be in these wonderful ice landscapes, which are so reduced and yet so rich, of such heart-touching beauty, I feel deep gratitude; to see them disappear breaks my heart, and I do not think primarily about the big picture, climate change, sea levels, the future of humanity. At such moments, I am pierced only by great sadness that something so wonderful is disappearing, that we will never again be able to marvel with humility at how big and beautiful this ice is and what works nature has created. And some may not understand that one cries at such a moment."
My breath catches at such words.
I also love the north, although I have never been to the Arctic.
Iceland was the most northern.
"So reduced and so rich", exactly!
I feel sadness, as a citizen of the earth.
I feel in these words what it means to say goodbye.
I also feel anger that I will no longer get to see this kind of beauty.
Just a few months and it looks different again.
Rapidly disappearing beauty.
I myself know the rage from my own experience of seeing natural beauty die.
As a former biologist and moorland conservationist,
I know this being deeply moved and filled by natural beauty.
The rage that we hardly manage to
take these beauties with us into the future has faded.
Anger as a constant companion in life is not a good concept.
So what remains is a somewhat helpless despondency and deep sadness,
that it is already too late for certain "things".
I understand Birgit Lutz's tears.
What are we to marvel at in the future?
That would be something!
To be amazed that we were able to turn the wheel once again.
That would somewhat dampen the sadness about the irreversible losses.
Because we are still saving some things,
and ourselves (!),
The researchers show,
ever clearer in the data,
ever more definite in their words
that a completely different era is approaching:
the "HOTHOUSE EARTH" awaits us.
A group of 16 climate scientists
explained in 2018 the path towards the "Hothouse Earth", among other things, in this way*:
"Stability landscape showing the pathway of the Earth System out of the Holocene and thus, out of the glacial–interglacial limit cycle to its present position in the hotter Anthropocene.
The fork in the road is shown here as
the two divergent pathways of the Earth System in the future (broken arrows).
Currently, the Earth System is on a Hothouse Earth pathway
driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and
biosphere degradation toward a planetary threshold at ∼2,
beyond which the system follows an essentially irreversible pathway
driven by intrinsic biogeophysical feedbacks.
The other pathway leads to Stabilized Earth, a pathway of Earth System stewardship guided by human-created human-maintained basin of attraction.
“Stability” (vertical axis) is defined here as the inverse of the potential energy of the system.
Systems in a highly stable state (deep valley) have low potential energy, and considerable energy is required to move them out of this stable state. Systems in an unstable state (top of a hill) have high potential energy, and they require only a little additional energy to push them off the hill and down toward a valley of lower potential energy."
So "Hothouse Earth" is a house,
in which many organisms can continue to live on planet Earth.
Except for humans.
For simplified understanding only:
With global warming, the temperature range is becoming smaller and smaller,
in which humans can live comfortably.
Where our heads can also live well.
This range is shrinking every year.
At some point the budget is consumed,
and humans must try to live in temperatures
that are definitely not good for humans.
Beyond the scientifically declared
"planetary threshold" towards the Hothouse Earth,
our bodies become pot roasts.
The human brain becomes a 'roast chicken'.
It's as simple as that.
Just a symbolic image: San Francisco on 9 September 2020, during the forest fires.
Photo by Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)
Let us turn once again
to the representation and description of the scientists,
the depiction of the fork in the road
either across the planetary threshold towards the "Hothouse Earth,
or towards a good, climate-stable future.
Then this depiction takes on an almost philosophical quality.
A kind of "geomorphology of human climate hike"
TOWARDS A NEW STABLE CLIMATE SYSTEM.
This is OUR HIKE.
We are standing at an unavoidable fork in the road right now.
An exciting hike.
Taking us as human beings to a new level.
It is to be hoped for in a positive sense.
What governments and parliaments are saying about this hike:
Net Zero by 2050.
But these are just words,
the measures alone are nowhere near enough.
Everyone is amazed.
Something is happening!
Parts of the financial world are getting restless about it.
Sh....-Blackrock!, they think.
Sh....-Blackrock may also be the thinking of those from Fridays for Future,
who are calling for Net Zero in 2035.
It is not fast enough.
The grandchildren will be hit hard.
But that logic still prevails:
More is not possible.
The German Constitutional Court sees it differently:
It is permissible to restrict our freedoms in the present,
so that our grandchildren will still have enough freedom.
We should really wake up now!
Because we're making a strange impression.
A bad impression.
Yes, a ridiculous figure even, somehow.
It seems that we're still trying to believe
that you can dig a big foundation pit with teaspoons.
We are stuck in a
Faith moves mountains.
That's what one says.
But it does not change data.
The data say:
with the "mash talks" comes the Hothouse Earth.
And then these
Then, when the consequences of warming are so advanced,
that they take on a life of their own,
and no money in the world,
with no politics in the world,
with no technical weapon in the world
will be able to stop these processes.
One of these tipping points is, for example,
is when the permafrost has become so denuded and so warm,
that there is no turning back.
Then, no matter how many measures are taken, the permafrost will continue to melt.
It just keeps melting!
Considerable parts of the whole of Siberia are melting.
And that's not all.
Greenland. Alaska. ...
Then, as I mentioned, there's the gigantic
Won't listen to reason.
Methane can neither talk nor listen.
When some of these tipping points have been reached and exceeded,
we will realise
that our strategy of measures with teaspoons has not worked.
Or with a view to the Arctic states:
Can you believe it?
Thanks to the burning of fossil fuels
there is rapid global warming;
leading to the melting of Arctic ice,
with devastating global consequences,
but also paves the way for the exploitation of new resources in the Arctic,
including gas and oil.
Everybody up there is after it.
All of them!
The idea: extract what they can as soon as possible.
Has anybody not understood anything?
We have to get away from fossil fuels,
and at the same time we want to keep pulling them out of the ground and burning them?
Aren't we making again a mockery of our human knowledge?
Politicians talk about these raw resources.
The media write and report about these raw resources.
Resources as lures.
Pheromones for people.
People in a high.
Where is the climate competence of the majority of
the 4th power in a state?
are most of us,
become climate chatterers?
Because it cannot be
We are losing time.
because we are not honest enough
about what we do,
and about what we need to do.
We lose time.
In 1997 (!) I once wrote the following sentence in an article
in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ):
"Sustainability has an impatient sister,
that is TIME."
The BAD thing about the now is
that mankind has more or less wasted 40 to 50 years.
Some things have been done, but the effect is not that,
that we could avoid the "Hothouse Earth".
With what we were and are willing to do.
And the GOOD of the now is
that we still have this little time.
This is our chance.
Or better: CHANCES.
If we gather ourselves together very quickly,
cut out the chatter as much as possible,
and concentrate on the facts,
and concentrate on the impacts that can be achieved as quickly as possible,
multiply them by millions,
then we have now, and a few short years,
to avoid these tipping points that turn the world upside down.
It is in the hands of all of us.
Will we turn this down,
for whatever good or not so good reasons,
then we will increasingly lose control of our own destiny.
And precisely: no money in the world will then be able to help us out of it.
of the situation in which we find ourselves is:
We still have the POSSIBILITIES.
And the CAPABILITIES.
Are we ready for this attack?
The OPPORTUNITIES of which there are many,
and so are their AREAS OF APPLICATION.
To invent new ones, too.
More on new possibilities in a second article.
More on this in 3 days.
Then in a crisp form.
Excuse my 'lack of make-up'.
Perhaps you will follow me in this thought,
that can get us out of this climate mess,
I quote the music band London Grammar:
„TRUTH IS A BEAUTIFUL THING."
Beautiful and true.
"Meine Welt schmilzt. Wie das Klima mein Dorf verwandelt" (My world is melting. How the climate is transforming my village), Line Nagell Ylvisåker. (Hoffmann und Campe, 2020. – Original edition: "Verda mi smeltar. Å leve med klimaendringar på Svalbard", Det Norske Samlager, Oslo, 2020).
"Nachruf auf die Arktis. Die Expeditionsleiterin Birgit Lutz über eine einzigartige Welt, die in diesen Wochen und Monaten untergeht" (Obituary for the Arctic. Expedition guide Birgit Lutz on a unique world that is sinking in these weeks and months), Birgit Lutz, in: Das Magazin, November 2020.
"Trajectories of the Earth System in the Antropocene" (in Deutsch: Übergänge des Erdsystems ins Anthropozän), in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), August 2018, written by 16 researchers working on the Earth's climate system.
About the author:
Thom Held (*1963) is a co-founder of 25onehundred and lives in Zurich. He works or worked as a biologist, spatial planner, researcher, photographer, 'political' blogger, book author, publisher, creative entrepreneur, democracy promoter, social impact company co-founder. He loves wine, good wine, and much more.