Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

How climate change kills the future

One of the hardest facts to grasp about climate change is this: No matter what we do now, it's almost certain to get worse in the future.

Why it matters: The time lag effect of climate change means that actions taken to reduce carbon emissions will only begin to noticeably bend the curve decades from now.

  • That gives us the power to avert the worst-case scenario for warming, but we have to come to grips with a future that will feel as if it gets worse by the year.

The big picture: Even under the most optimistic scenario for carbon emission reductions — one far more ambitious than anything the world is currently on a path for — global average temperatures are projected to keep rising until the 2050s and, while they begin to dip, still end the century higher than they are now.

  • As one meme circulating on social media goes, this year isn't the hottest summer of your life, but the coldest summer of the rest of your life.

Between the lines: Barring the invention of some kind of technology that could economically pull carbon out of the atmosphere — and we're not close to that — there is no full solution to climate change. Instead, it's a problem to be managed — whether well or badly — for the foreseeable future.

  • But that makes it very different than most of the other major challenges the world faces.
  • As terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic has been and remains, it will end one day, and both individuals and governments can take immediate actions to get immediate results. But there's no "flattening the curve" on climate change — at least not in any near-term time frame.

Context: Given all that, it shouldn't be surprising that the reaction to climate change tends to fall into three broad camps: outright denial, obliviousness, or despair.

  • According to a December survey, 40% of Americans feel helpless about climate change and 29% feel hopeless, while a separate 2020 poll by the American Psychiatric Association found that more than half of Americans are somewhat or extremely anxious about the impact of climate change on their mental health.
  • The younger the respondent, the more likely they reported higher levels of climate anxiety.
  • Analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note to investors last month that the "movement to not have children owing to fears over climate change is growing and impacting fertility rates quicker than any preceding trend in the field of fertility decline."

Driving the news: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on Monday contained a few silver linings amid a slew of generally bad news about the science of global warming.

  • Improved science about climate sensitivity — how much we can expect the planet to warm given a doubling of preindustrial atmospheric carbon concentration — enabled the IPCC to dial back the likelihood of the most extreme warming scenarios.

Yes, but: That same science also reduced the likelihood that we would experience the lowest levels of warming given that scenario.

  • The upshot is thatwe have more confidence about where climate change is poised to take us and more certainty about our ability to influence that future through actions on greenhouse gas emissions.

Thought bubble: One of my 4-year-old son's favorite books is "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats, about a young boy's adventures out in — as the title suggests — a very snowy day.

  • Reading it to him, I can't escape the fact that growing up in an ever-warmer New York City, he will be much less likely than I was to get to enjoy his own snowy days.
  • It's a minuscule thing against the expected damage that is and will be caused by climate change — a disproportionate amount of which will be borne by people far less lucky than he is — but it personalizes for me the depressing sense that our future will be lesser.

The bottom line: Many of us have been fortunate enough to grow up in a world that in most ways — whether we appreciate it or not — has generally been getting better year by year.

  • Much of that progress will likely continue, barring the most extreme worst-case warming scenarios, but maintaining a sense of optimism about the future in the face of gradually worsening climate change and all that will come with it will be the challenge of the century.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories