I know. I know. There have been victories, to be sure. But despite two years spent talking about it incessantly, and despite the strong enthusiasm for the topic displayed by Salon readers (thanks, everyone!) I have been denied, in my time spent blogging on the topic, the chance at a “Mission Accomplished” post.
I guess that’s to be expected. But not only is climate change still happening, things often seem to be getting worse. The West Antarctic ice sheet may have entered a period of unstoppable collapse, 2015 is expected to be the hottest year on record “by a mile” and every Republican running for president is dead-set on driving us further into climate crisis. Even if we were to completely stop burning fossil fuels today, cold turkey — and, unfortunately, I don’t foresee that one coming — climate change would still be happening, and would keep going for quite a while.
The only difference is, I will no longer be writing about it. I’m moving on and, at least for the near future, am stepping away from the climate beat. And while a small, evil part of me will miss being Salon’s resident buzzkill, a much bigger part regrets, immensely, the fact that I won’t be around to report on the good news that is sure to accompany the bad. The world, at long last, is beginning to recognize climate change as the crisis it is, and is slowly, but surely, beginning to do something about it. It’s not enough — and it may never be enough — but looking ahead, there’s a lot that can still go right.
Here’s what I’ll be cheering for:
The world agrees to a strong, binding climate deal
When what’s sure to be a frenzied 10 days in Paris this December come to an end, we’ll either have a strong, global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions … or we won’t. (Or, perhaps more likely, we’ll have something, the ultimate impact of which is up to interpretation.) And while plenty’s been done to ensure that our last, best hope for preventing catastrophic climate change doesn’t turn into another failure à la Copenhagen, a positive outcome is by no means assured. Whatever does happen, it’s guaranteed not to be enough, on its own, to limit global warming to the agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius, and pledges are unlikely to be legally binding (but hey, a girl can dream). But what the world needs from Paris are ambitious, serious pledges from the nearly 200 countries involved to change the course of history — and assurances that they’ll have the wherewithal to follow through.
The countries most responsible for climate change step up and pay up
Developed countries, the U.S. included, have yet to make good on their pledges to help developing nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. Paying the $58 billion in outstanding debt would be a moral victory — not to mention a key way of ensuring that the Paris talks are a success. MORE