One of the key things that Dr. Emanuel mentioned was that while a series of revolutions are very notable and important, equally important is the gradualism in between. After all, some build up, slow as it may be, must be in place to spark a revolution. Unfortunately, this sounds kind of like global warming. Global average temperatures have risen slowly but surely yet there has not been any revolutionary action by us. Yes, there has been slow but useful response to climate. Things like the Paris Climate Agreement are steps in the right direction. Hopefully past and future solutions will be enough to prevent any revolution inducing natural disaster.
The first manifestations of climate science began in observations of glacial erratics, glaciers, and ice sheets. It is incredible to think of the massive continental ice sheets carving out the lands that we know today. Human caused climate change is a widely accepted phenomenon (even if a major political party in the United States refuses to make it a part of their platform). The widespread evidence of an anthropogenic effect on climate seems relatively recently, but its idea was born near the end of the nineteenth century. As an EcoRep at Colby, I appreciate that we have gotten to the point of having positions everywhere to promote more sustainable and environmentally friendly activity.
All over the world greener energy production be it wind, solar, or nuclear is being implemented. A very interesting ongoing debate is over how much nuclear energy we should use. It is an incredible efficient source that many were very excited about in the 20th century, but following disasters in the USSR and more recently in Japan, interest in some places has cooled. Obviously nuclear fusion power plants have the potential to be extremely dangerous, and they generate dangerous waste (though arguably less harmful than the waste created by traditional power plants). Nuclear energy is also never going to run out, while something like coal will. But think, just creating a nuclear power plant itself is an amazing feat and took a series of revolutions and gradualism on its own.
All this said, with developing countries like China and India consuming more and more energy – often clean non-renewable energy – is putting your plastic bottle in the recycling bin rather than the trash going to cut it?
The question becomes (since stopping global climate change from human pollution seems near impossible) can technology solve our problems? It won’t be easy but I think/hope so. The main barrier to do so would be economic, but outcomes of things like sea level rise would be much more expensive. We can scrub carbon dioxide out of the air, cloud seed, artificially adjust the temperature of the planet. However, any of the things humans decide to try could have unintended consequences on a global scale. We will see, but solving this problem will also take a series of revolutions complemented by that ever-important gradualism.