Can we reverse Climate Change?

The simple answer?

No, not in our life-time's at least.

The reason for this is that carbon dioxide is a long-lived (long lasting) gas, and as emissions continued to rise over the last decade, the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere accumulated - day on day, month on month, year on year. However the resulting temperature rise of the Earth was much slower, taking decades to reflect the gaseous changes in the atmosphere, unfortunately this is also the case in reverse.

Thus if we were to suddenly place a complete and immediate stop to all emissions, the atmospheric accumulation of carbo dioxide would very slowly decrease but the global temperatures would not reflect this change for many decades or more. Which means the effects of Climate Change will be felt long after any efforts are put in place to eradicate the burning of fossil fuels, the restoration of natural forests, or the reduction in beef production.

Further, the ocean acts as an incredible stabiliser of global surface temperatures and for years has soaked up 97% of the heat created by carbon dioxide. However over time this has caused global ocean temperatures to rise significantly, and in the same way, an immediate stop to carbon emissions would not be reflected in sea temperatures for many decades.

We are essentially entering the debate at a stage when Climate Change is not only happening, it has passed the tipping point into an accelerated downhill trajectory.

If we find a way to completely eliminate all emissions and create accelerated carbon sinks to absorb atmospheric climate change-causing gases, any actual reversal will be a very slow and lengthy process, and although we may see global temperatures responding to such a reversal the detrimental impacts and affects of the risen temperatures will most likely be impossible to repair. Examples of irreparable impacts would be the loss of fragile ecosystems, mass extinctions of flora and fauna, ice-cap and glacier melt, rising sea levels etc.

So what can we do?

This is where we can get truly innovative because we have a secret defence. We have foresight. We may have caused global pandamonium with our industry and our technology but we can equally now use it to our advantage. By glimpsing what the future holds we can create a vision for a sustainable system. One that is self-sustaining with little to no impact on the environment. For this to work the system must be closed-loop ie all waste is worked back through the system, so essentially there is no waste. We reuse, we restore, we are completely self-sufficient. In this way we remove our impact on the natural environment and completely stop the emission of all harmful gases.

To then address biodiversity loss, food shortages, droughts, land loss - we look to the creation of innovative technological biodomes to house whole communities in safe spaces, within which food can be grown, animals can be reared, water can be recycled through and energy can be generated by renewable sources.

We need passion, we need pro-activity, we need creativity, we need collaboration, we need consensus. There is no time or need for despair, for sadness or for fear.

With open eyes we take on the task; to transcend our destructive tendencies and design a sustainable society, capable of supporting life.

With open hearts we must accept and embrace our ever changing world; life is not to be battled but to be experienced and appreciated. Every day is a gift, and no matter what the future holds for humanity, individually we all face the same fate, so do what you are able but not at the expense of your life. Be present. Be here, now.


@2019 by Tansy Baigent