In this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, Michael Barnard, Chief Strategist of TFIE Strategy Inc. and CleanTechnica contributor, sits down to talk with Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and the Director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, about the immediacy and importance of addressing climate change. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.
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Mike and Michael (we will refer to Michael Barnard as Mike) begin their talk with a look at Michael’s experiences in Sydney, Australia, where he is currently on sabbatical studying the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events. According to Michael, people in Australia seem to “get” the climate change challenge, as they have recently seen such direct impacts as extreme bushfires, unprecedented heat and drought, and frequent flash floods. For Australians, the threats are clear and immediate. As Michael says, “it’s not rocket science.”
The two explore how these challenges are similar and different to those faced in the United States, where wildfires and flooding are not yet to the same extreme as those events in Australia, but are increasingly worsening. As Michael notes, climate change is expected to increase the number of simultaneous weather disasters around the world. This, consequently, will result in decreased resilience and capacity to combat these challenges. Around the world, Michael explains, militaries are increasingly being deployed to deal with extreme weather events, placing heavy strains on their resources to have to so frequently deal with climate change-generated disasters.
Michael and Mike transition into how climate change also exacerbates issues such as conflict. As Michael notes, as climate change drives natural resources depletion, there is increased competition for land, food, water, and other critical resources for human survival. At the same time, global populations are increasing. This kind of strain on crucial resources, as Michael continues to explain, can fuel international terrorism. There is a remarkable interconnectedness when it comes to climate change threats and conflict, he notes.
Among other impacts Michael lists are climate-induced human migration, diminishing habitable land, and threats to economies, to name a few. Ultimately, he explains that if humans continue to warm the planet beyond where temperatures currently are, many issues will be irreversible. Being able to look at the long-term impacts and measures that need to be taken will be critical, Michael said.
Mike and Michael transition into exploring the famous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and the ways in which they communicate the immediacy of climate change threats. Michael’s view is that the reports are often conservative, and explains that there may be much less “wiggle room” for us to be continuing the use of fossil fuels in order to prevent major future disasters.
The pair note, however, that there is hope. In beginning to look at more sophisticated technology and other solutions, Michael and Mike talk about how deploying massive amounts of renewable energy is an exciting process to learn from. Ultimately, Michael explains that the world is already seeing a collapse of coal and a shift toward renewable energy, despite politicians who are cutting regulations around fossil fuel industries.
Michael brings the podcast to a close by imploring listeners to take the next election seriously, and realize the opportunity to find a politician who will represent the people rather than the fossil fuel industry.
To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!
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