Reflections on the Recent IPCC Reports
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released two reports in the past eight months, both with dire warnings about the future of our planet and the need for immediate global action. If you are a concerned citizen who follows these headlines, you can probably relate that each time a flurry of articles swarms your feed there is a gut-punch feeling that may consume the rest of your day – or leave you feeling numb. You are not alone.
We have reached a point where scientific reports and collective emotional wellbeing are reciprocal. The most recent IPCC report defines what is at stake. The answer is, “a liveable and sustainable future for all”. In other words, everything we hold dear. This is no small quote or just another article. It is a statement for our entire future and also a call to action in the present.
The sixth IPCC report, released in August of 2021, announced a “code red for humanity” stating that the cost of exceeding human-caused global warming of 1.5°C will have devastating reverberations to our climate such as extreme weather events, sea level rise, wildfires, and more. With every fraction of a degree above 1.5°C we reach, the more drastic and catastrophic the effects on ecosystems and human lives. The most recent IPCC report from February 2022 adds that no matter what, we must prepare for the effects of human-caused climate change with adaptation strategies, funding, and planning. At the same time, it underscores the limits of adaptation and the consequences of continuing to rely on fossil fuels, as well as the urgent need to stop climate pollution and avoid widespread catastrophes that will be impossible to prepare for.
These are the most overwhelming and motivating messages imaginable because the truth is, we don’t have time to feel hopeless. We only have time to act. Luckily, as Joan Baez so wisely reminds us, action is the antidote to despair.
The key pieces of the two IPCC reports that are easy to glaze over are that 1) every fraction of a degree we do not go over 1.5°C, or every amount of climate pollution we do not produce, is helping us protect a more liveable environment for all. The sixth assessment even goes so far to state that if we can “cut global emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by the middle of this century, we can halt and possibly reverse the rise in temperatures”, 2) the scale at which we need to transform our systems encompasses everything about “how society functions, including changes to underlying values, world-views, ideologies, social structures, political and economic systems, and power relationships”.
While these may seem daunting, what it means is that every step of progress we make right now towards climate action, every role that people, parents, advocates, organizations are playing in the climate advocacy movement are important. You reading this, talking to friends, family, and elected officials is important. Our collective action is already changing the narrative throughout the world. We must keep it up and be fierce in our dedication to changing systems, ideologies and inequities – big and small.
One way we’ve found to continue this movement forward is to learn what climate action is already happening around you and get involved. Another way is to philanthropically support the day-in-day-out-work of professionals and organizations fighting for change (like OEC!).
We put the “action is the antidote to despair” mentality into our work everyday. We advocate for policy solutions that both reduce climate pollution itself as well as support the resiliency needed for people to face the impacts climate change is already having on our communities. We gather people from across our state to join together and raise their voice. We hold agencies and decision-makers accountable. We build partnerships that are unconventional and focused on collaboration and problem solving. We defend against efforts that hold us back. We envision a brighter future with a climate that safeguards our communities and economy; clean and plentiful water that supports people, fish and wildlife; and healthy homes and neighborhoods free of air pollution and hazardous chemicals.
We hope you find a way to join this movement in a way that feels right to you, whether that be following us on social channels to stay informed, taking action by writing to your legislators and decision-makers, or giving a gift that keeps us pushing the needle on climate action. Whatever you do, do it now and with passion for our collective future.
* To learn more about the climate action progress in Oregon read our most recent progress report on the Oregon Climate Action Plan here.