From the recent IPCC report warning that we have just 12 years to circumvent a climate change catastrophe to this week’s UN report on the world’s climbing carbon emissions, the evidence just keeps mounting that we — humankind — have a lot of work to do to save our planet. And we’d better do it fast. The underlying message in all these reports: it’ll take buy-in from almost everyone on the planet to ensure it remains habitable for generations to come.
And yet, some of the most powerful people in the world continue to publicly doubt whether climate change is real. It begs the question: can we head off catastrophe without them? I think we can. And more importantly, I think we’re going to have to.
Fortunately, technology and innovation are enablingus to use market forces to encourage people to make more sustainable choices —not (just) because they’re better for the planet, but because they’re cheaper,more effective and better for people. Here are three ways we’re already movingahead — with or without the climate change deniers.
Look no further than the rise in electric vehicle sales to see how regular people are starting to do the math on how gas guzzling vehicles impact their own pocketbooks. That demand is finally influencing supply. Automakers like GM and Ford recently announced plans to double down on making battery-powered electric vehicles in the years ahead. A world where Ford could be in same league as Tesla (which, btw, just slashed prices on its residential solar systems) isn’t so far away.
Oil and coal often get all the blame for climate change, but agriculture accounts for nearly 25% of greenhouse gas emissions globally — more than all transportation sources combined. But technology is changing that game. From LED “light recipes” that allow food to grow on a smaller footprint, to my company’s efforts to reduce synthetic pesticide loads by 80% in the next decade — and boost yields, we’re on our way to a future where agriculture is both economically and environmentally sustainable.
As the business case for going green gains steam, we’re seeing dinosaurs of industry buy into a cleaner environment, literally. Shell, for instance, has been aggressively acquiring cleantech companies — not to snuff out competition but to piggyback on proprietary technologies that are key to the company’s future, and the world’s.
Too often industry and the environment are presented as adversaries, but as partnerships like this become more common, and profitable, we just might find that the fate of our world shifts quickly,guided not by morals but by market forces.
It’s so easy to get crushed by climate change news rather than solutions. But throwing in the towel isn’t an option.