Last call for the climate: World Bank spells out impact of inaction

by Guest Blogger

November 20, 2012

This is big.

A new report released bythe World Bankdescribesa world I could live to witness if we continue with our current rate of polluting the atmosphere.

It sounds like a Hollywood disaster movie except that it is real.

Remember the Russian heat wave in 2010 with massive forest fires? The one that burned more than one million hectares and killed about 55 000 people? The World Bank report says:

Recent extreme heat waves such as in Russia in 2010 are likely to become the new normal summer in a 4C world.

Killer droughts and floods; inundation of coastal cities; more powerful tropical cyclones; increasing water scarcity and challenges to food production. Oceans are becoming more acidic faster than ever before in the Earths history, Arctic summer sea ice may soon be gone and masses of species lost forever. And the list goes on.

Its no wonder. After all, we are talking about a temperature change of 4C that almost compares to the difference between today and the last ice age happening during one persons lifetime compared to millenia. A warming of 4C could occur as early as the 2060s. And thats what this is really about. The changes are so huge and interlinked that its impossible to predict their full effects. Weve never been there before. According to the report:

(…) there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4C world is possible.

So wed better not go there. And thats what makes this World Bank report so important. The main message of the report is that the game is not over yet. We can still choose our path. The report says:

But with action, a 4C world can be avoided and we can likely hold warming below 2C.

This brings me to the title of this blog. This is really about the decisions that will be made in the next 5-10 years by all levels of society, in all corners of the world. This is the true time-window we have to change the dangerous course were on because todays decisions, especially on infrastructure, resource extraction and policies, will have long-term consequences.

This really is the last call, this decade.(Will Steffen, Australian National University, at the Planet Under Pressure conference)

So dont be fooled by talk about educating our children to be better decision makers, consumers and citizens. Thats important, but wont solve this problem. We are deciding their future for them whether we like it of not. It is todays political and business leaders we need to educate and put pressure on. Take the World Bank for example. We need to make sure that the Bank itself finally ends its hypocrisy of warning about climate change, while continuing to fuel fossil-fuel addiction.

So no more coalscandals like Medupi. No more coal financing in Kosovo or any other country. The bank must shift 100% of its energy portfolio to renewables and energy efficiency, the solutions that will truly help the poor, full stop.

But its also a challenge for all of us individuals as workers, housebuilders, parents, voters, consumers, activists etc. The role of civil society, you and me, is to make the change desirable, possible and inevitable, through our own action.

Its a big challenge, no doubt about it, but we have thetechnology, money and creativity to solve it in time. We just need to be much much faster and smarter than before.

Lets take the report as a warning, but lets not allow it to become a prophecy.

Kaisa Kosonen

P.S. Have you become anArctic defender yet? Thats one of our campaigns where we are really drawing the line, and already have more than 2 million people with us.

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