Answer 4 of the dossier “40 KEY QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD”, coordinated by Albert Bosch from a request of the communication group “GRUPO Z”, where an expert in each subject answers a question about the trend of a certain topic. In this specific case, this question is answered by JOSÉ MARÍA BALDASANO:
There is no longer any discussion, scientific or in media, that the current human civilization is causing climate change at an unprecedented speed, especially since the invention of the steam engine (around 1750) and the intensive use of fossil fuels as the main energy source. In essence, we have evolved to be a “homo energeticus”.
The question is not how it will affect, but how it is already affecting us, both the planet and the human species.
According to the intergovernmental panel on climate change of the United Nations:
- The average temperature of the planet has already risen by 1°C in the last century, as well as the temperature of seawater.
- The melting of glaciers and Antarctica, complemented by the thermal expansion of the oceans, is causing an increase in sea level, especially affecting the coastal areas where most of the human population lives.
- Non-uniform changes in rain and snow precipitation patterns occur, with consequences on water availability and agricultural production.
- 4) all this greatly affects the biodeversity patterns (deforestation, flowering, migratory habits, etc.). But one of the most important consequences is the accelerated loss of Arctic ice.
The solution is not easy, because it implies a radical change of the current socio-economic-energy model. The most important and urgent measure, although very complicated to execute due to existing interests, is the abandonment of the use of fossil fuels in order to mitigate/stop greenhouse gas emissions, mainly CO2 and CH4; together with adaptation measures. This is the goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, agreed in December 2015. Will we be able to do it?
JOSÉ MARÍA BALDASANO: Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.