If humankind can figure out a way to put 12 of us on the moon and bring them back safely to earth, we can solve anything

The words in the title come from Tom Hanks when he closes the inspiring film The Moonwalkers (50 mins). It gets a five star rating in The Times today and it’s being shown at the Lightroom NIC in King’s Cross, London. I think I will go and see it.

The biggest challenge today facing humankind is global warming. The politicians seem unable to put self-interest aside and tackle the problem together. The business leaders seem unable to put self-interest aside and instead are using global warming to increase their profits. And I’m referring to businesses concerned with the selling off fossil fuels.

Humankind is struggling with global warming because we are unable to work together to solve it.

But Tom Hanks believes that humankind can solve anything. It’s probably true but in respect of global warming can we do it quickly enough?

The focus thus far has been on reducing global warming emissions into the atmosphere primarily carbon dioxide by curbing the burning of fossil fuels (resulting in carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere). The worst offender is coal and China are still burning coal in coal-fired power stations at an increased rate and has no desire to stop. Australia provides the coal so they are complicit.

India is also a big offender. China produces 30% of global warming emissions. Without China’s involvement in tackling global warming, there’s no chance of success.

Perhaps another way to tackle global warming is to focus more on the kind of fuels that we burn. For example, the airline Virgin Atlantic is investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). They recently flew an aircraft over the Atlantic on this type of fuel.

Carbon capture in which carbon dioxide is stored underground indefinitely has been described as a con. A lot of people think that the concept is untenable and is simply a way of big business to convince the public that they are doing something about global warming.

The point, however, is that humankind probably has the ability to dream up imaginative, technological ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and it is those sorts of genius ideas which humankind will be reliant upon. I think we need to turn to the scientists to fix climate change because we can’t rely on business leaders and we can’t rely on politicians.

26 tipping points

Coordinated by the University of Exeter, the Global Tipping Points report has identified 26 thresholds which if passed would mean that the earth is going into uncharted and irreversible changes to the planet’s ecological systems.

The thresholds include the following:

  • The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet. If it vanishes entirely the extra water in the oceans would raise sea levels by 7 m.
  • The killing-off of the world’s coral reefs because of high ocean temperatures.
  • The collapse of the Atlantic Ocean’s Gulfstream which keeps the UK mild.

Five of the tipping points are at risk of being crossed already. Three of them could be crossed in the 2030s at which point the Earth is expected to be 1.5°C hotter than preindustrial levels.

It cannot be business as usual. There needs to be a dramatic change with real commitment.

The average global temperature in 2023 has been 0.3°C above the previous hottest year in 2016 which has been described as extraordinary by Professor Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter, a co-author of the report about tipping points.

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