Chicken Little Was Right: The New UN Climate Report Is Terrifying


“The sky is falling. The sky is falling!”

Chicken Little was right all along: The sky IS falling. Not that we didn’t know the planet Earth situation was getting dire, but the latest UN report on climate change predicts a Walking Dead scenario—wildfires everywhere, mass starvation, wildlife in collapse— as early as 2040. It’s not happening at some abstract point in the future, as many of us who’ve been terrified of climate change managed to convince ourselves.

2040. That’s pretty much tomorrow. A physicist and climate scientist named Bill Hare, quoted in the New York Times article about the report, summed it up best: This, he said, is “quite a shock.”

You’ve probably already done the math about how old you’ll be—and how old your kids will be—by 2040. If you’re like me, you’re ready to sign a lease for a cozy little condo on the moon, because our planet will be toast before we hit retirement age. If we take political action immediately, i.e. in the next 10-12 years max, to massively cut carbon emissions, we may delay the inevitable by a bit. But needless to say, action won’t happen under the current U.S. administration.

Yesterday I saw this post from a mom on a Brooklyn parents’ email listserv:

“I’m sure many of you read the troubling report that states we have 12 years left to act in order to avoid catastrophe. What do we do? I’m new to this level of activism but I want my kids to have habitable planet.” This mom said she’s contacted all her federal, state and local representatives, and is wondering “what else to do? March? Arrange town hall meetings?”

No one replied. Crickets. Until one parent finally posted, “I’m pretty freaked out by this,” along with a link to a Guardian article that lists the companies that are responsible for most of the globe’s carbon emissions.

That listserv has tens of thousands of parents on it, but so far no one else has responded (present company included). I’m guessing we’re all still shell-shocked by the report. Understandable. But we don’t have time to stay shell-shocked.

For now, we can pressure businesses, universities and governments to divest from the fossil fuel companies on the Guardian’s list.

And we can send our business to companies like Ikea, which are taking responsive action. The Guardian reports that “Ikea has committed to 100% renewable power under the RE100 initiative. Volvo recently announced that all its cars would be electric or hybrid from 2019.”

So hey, that’s a start. A tiny one, but a start.

What else can we do? Any inspiring ideas/suggestions/rants/songs/books/to-do lists that will light a fire under us all? Ideas are welcome.

To be continued…