The newly elected head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Prof. Jim Skea, has warned that apocalyptic messaging about climate change is counterproductive and prevents people from taking action.
In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Skea said that the world warming 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels is “not an existential threat to humanity.” He acknowledged that it is an important target, but said that “we don’t know exactly when” it will be reached, although he continued that individual years could exceed it “as early as this decade.”
He added: “Nevertheless, we should not despair and fall into a state of shock when the world exceeds 1.5 °C.
“Every action we take to mitigate climate change helps. Climate protection is always cheaper and protects people from the dramatic consequences of global warming. This is all the more true if we have exceeded the Paris climate target.
“The world won’t end if it gets more than 1.5 °C warmer. However, it will be a more dangerous world. Countries will struggle with many problems, there will be social tensions. And yet, this is not an existential threat to humanity. Even with 1.5 °C of warming, we will not die out.”
Skea, who previously taught at Imperial College London, also commented on those who use deathly scenarios and statistics to try to scare people into taking action. He said that this approach “paralyses people and prevents them from taking the necessary steps to get a grip on climate change.”
Instead, Skea called for a more positive and hopeful message about climate change. He said that “climate protection is always cheaper and protects people from the dramatic consequences of global warming.” He also said that there are “many things we can do to limit climate change,” such as expanding renewable energy and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Skea’s comments come at a time when there is growing concern about the impact of climate change. The IPCC’s latest report warned that global warming is already having a significant impact on the planet, and that these impacts will only get worse if we do not act.
However, Skea suggests that we need to be careful about how we communicate about climate change. If we focus too much on the negative, we may actually discourage people from taking action. Instead, we need to focus on the positive and hopeful aspects of climate action, and show people that there is still time to make a difference.
About Jim Skea
Skea, a 69-year-old physics graduate born in Dundee, Scotland, was named the new chairman of the IPCC last Wednesday (26 July). With a PhD in energy research from Imperial College London, Skea has been involved with the IPCC since its foundation in the 1990s, more recently co-chairing the report on solutions in the panel’s latest round of publications.
He succeeds South Korean economist Hoesung Lee, who is stepping down after nearly eight years as chairman and has said in a statement he was “humbled” to have been elected chair at a meeting of the IPCC in Nairobi, Kenya.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?