I wish 2019 to be a year for decision-makers and individual people to take action towards reducing CO2 emissions, find creative solutions to be more environment-friendly and to be excited about these challenges, because there is no way around it.
We are sharing information about our research on climate change to give people an opportunity to adapt and prepare, but mostly, to encourage joint effort to limit global warming to “safe” levels.
I have been at CICERO since June 2016 and I work on different research projects using a wide range of models to extract information about extreme weather events. I can investigate climate change on a global to very localized level for different future scenarios and this information can be used to inform stakeholders, decision-makers and local authorities on how to adapt to and prepare for these changes.
My wish for 2019 is for both decision makers and individual people to use this information to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We know what is causing changes in the climate system, but we also know how to fix it. Once people really decide that they want to find alternatives, they do.
Take plastic bags, straws and cups as an example. 2018 was the year when people really got their eyes up for the dangers of plastic and now, we are finding ways to make these items out of corn starch that are compostable for example. Limiting our consumption of animal products is another example. 10 years ago, it was a real challenge to be a vegan, but now every year, more and more people switch to a plant-based diet. As a consequence, it is now easy to find a wide range of vegan products.
These changes are not coming from politicians. They are coming from us, individuals who are informing ourselves about the consequences of what we consume. I think we can make even more changes by trying to reduce our carbon footprint together.
We should also not forget that the future scenarios for which we run climate models are just possible futures, and that we are the ones that really decide how this future will look like.
If we continue like "business as usual", we will experience unprecedented changes and I worry that we will not manage to adapt to all the advert consequences. For example, we expect to have longer dry periods followed by heavy rain during a short time causing flash floods, probably similar to what we have experienced in Oslo in August 2017 and 2018. We also expect more people suffering and dying from intense heatwaves, which is also already happening. In general, what might feel extreme today will become the new normal.
But this doesn’t have to happen. We still have time to both limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and put adaptation measures into place for the warming we are already committed to. There is strong evidence that shows that it is cheaper to prevent the increase in temperature than it is to deal with the consequences of doing nothing.
The future depends on what we do now. With the industrial revolution, we have created wealth, but also a problem. There is no argument about this. I wish 2019 to be the year where we stop talking and start acting towards fixing the problem.