I believe we are beginning this decade with a triple crisis as our economies are crumbling, our climate is warming and our energy supplies are getting scarcer.
This assessment of our situation seems pessimistic but it couldn’t be more accurate as it is based on the +700 articles I published here over the past three years. But nothing is lost yet. We still can act massively and fast worldwide.
The decade that just started will either be remembered as a time where people stood up to collectively address the problems or just failed at grabbing the opportunities we are offered.
The socio-economic crisis
Currently, around ten percent of the total active population in rich nations is unemployed. This is even more worrying as young people are struck twice as hard as the average population.
First example of this is the dozens of million of housings that need to be weatherized and retrofitted around the world –20 millions in France alone. Even more buildings need to be heated by renewable and energy efficient solutions. All this has the potential to literally create millions of sustainable jobs that can’t be relocated.
Similarly, electricity still comes in too many countries from dirty hydrocarbon fossil fuels. This has to change as coal, oil and natural gas pollute the soil where we grow our food, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Investing in renewables like solar or wind and safe nuclear energy will create there as well millions of jobs.
A third kind of green jobs can be found in modernizing our societies as a whole. From a more energy efficient transportation system to a more sustainable agriculture and industry there are literally dozens of opportunities to be tapped into.
Of course, a green New Deal would mean billions of Dollars and Euros in investments. Our leaders should know by now that this money would be welt spent as fighting climate change makes financial sense and as investing in Nature provides huge returns. This is why very large investors are now demanding strong action.
The environmental crisis
Climate change and its devastating effects can’t be ignored. The IPCC specialists believe global greenhouse gases emissions have to be halved by 2050 ( even more if we want to stop global average temperature to increase by more than 1.5°C) .
This might even be not enough to save dozens of nations and avoid serious troubles for dozens more. Still to the IPCC, rich nations have to cut by 25 to 40 percent their own emissions (compared to 1990 levels) during this decade. This calls for drastic actions.
However this is not all as besides climate change are multiple other environmental issues : pollutions of all kinds, water scarcity, deforestation, overfishing…
It is high time these topics are tackled seriously. Jared Diamond outlined in Collapse twelve issues, each one having the potential to wipe us out from the face of Earth.
The energy crisis
This is perhaps the less evident of the three. However, peak oil is to me even more scary than climate change as cheap oil (and thus energy) is the very basis of our lifestyle. It enabled our civilization to achieve so much social progress in the last century.
There are more and more concerns that either peak oil already occurred or that it will happen in this decade. Meanwhile, oil prices are due to reach soon $100 with the increasing energy demand as the economy recovers.
The second energy source – coal – could also peak much more sooner than we previously thought. This is a large issue as still many countries around the world rely on this solution to produce the majority of their electricity.
Energy efficiency is the ultimate solution, the panacea to solve this crisis, provided it is coupled with sustainable and low carbon solutions. The IEA believes it can account for half the climate change mitigation and energy scarcity efforts.
To infer this article I believe that either we address these three crises massively and fast either we will end up the 2010s in a much worst situation that we begun it. With the amazing technological and scientific progress witnessed in the last decade I can’t believe it could actually happen.
We shouldn’t forget that the last huge economic recession took a decade to spread and start a world war. Developing nations would suffer the most from climate change. This injustice has to me the potential to trigger even more tensions.
Green jobs can be found everywhere and can be considered as current jobs improved to become sustainable. They have a huge potential in developed and developing nations alike. The UNEP outlined the benefits of such a global green New Deal and its consequences on green jobs worldwide.
What do you think ? Are we tackling these issues or are we just failing to rise up and do what is necessary ? I look forward to reading your opinions.