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Every one of us has a part to play in transforming our world into something better. Photo by Vlad Vasnetsov/Pexels
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Amidst the climate crisis, the case for hope is getting stronger

Are you hopeful that the world will soon turn the corner on climate change? The scientific evidence is clear — we have to stop filling our atmosphere with polluting gases that are heating our planet. And yet, the emissions from fossil fuels continue to rise unabated. At this very moment, there are industry lobbyists, politicians and media organizations fighting to prevent any government policies or global agreements that threaten growth in oil, gas and coal production.

A recent BBC mini-series entitled Big Oil v The World provides some of the most detailed evidence to date on how Exxon and others have concealed their knowledge that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will harm the planet. While scientists warned us that global warming is a serious threat to humanity, the Exxons of the world launched a campaign to spread doubt and prevent people from demanding immediate action. This campaign has been a success for at least 40 years.

The BBC series details how a mountain of capital was deployed to spread disinformation and capture political power in an effort to quash climate action. Organizations created by fossil fuel corporations wilfully misled the public and government leaders, despite their own scientists raising the alarm that planet-warming gases were a byproduct of their industry. Corporate leadership chose to protect their business with full knowledge there would be dire consequences for future generations.

As we all go about our business seeking happiness in many different ways, a war is raging between those in love with the past and those in love with the future. Those resisting change have an end game, where everyone accepts that we will somehow survive on a planet that is rapidly heating, while nature is vanishing at an unprecedented rate. The future is defended by millions of scientists, activists and business leaders who have been working hard to avoid environmental catastrophe.

It’s hard not to lose hope when money, political power and greed have us in a stranglehold. But perhaps the first light of dawn is finally signalling the end of this ugly war, where dark forces steal our best assets and impoverish future societies. People are waking up to the fact that we are redistributing wealth to the few, driving an extinction event, obliterating natural habitat and destabilizing our planet’s life support systems.

With this new awareness, many changes are underway. A growing number of people are motivated to buy electric vehicles, install solar panels and improve the energy efficiency of their home or business. People of all ages, without any past experience in activism, are joining protest marches and volunteering for political movements calling for a green and just transition. New leadership is emerging.

Clean technologies are rapidly being developed to replace a global energy system that requires burning and polluting. Renewable energy is now cost-competitive and a great investment opportunity.

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New markets are being created, including value-added solutions like industrial facilities that can recycle 95 per cent of the materials in solar panels or energy storage solutions that eliminate the need for fossil fuel-based electricity generation. However, the most important aspect of this energy transition is that renewables will free us all from dependency on petrostates and their cartels

The transition to electric transportation is on an exponential growth curve, with an inflection point to rapid growth only years away. There is already aggressive competition to mine minerals, build battery plants and retool assembly lines. All major automobile manufacturers have a plan to transition to zero-emission vehicles and that momentum is spreading to busesdelivery vehicles and even farm machinery.

Solar panel and heat pump installations for homes and businesses are accelerating in Europe thanks to Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine and futile attempt to weaken Europe by restricting its gas supplies. Around the world, building codes are being changed to encourage or mandate passive home and zero-energy technology. These homes of the future are well-insulated, heated by extremely efficient heat pumps and generate enough of their own electricity to reduce annual energy costs to zero.

The movement to protect nature, transition away from fossil fuels and create an equitable society won’t achieve critical mass without supporters, adopters, innovators and foot soldiers

Companies are racing to establish a beachhead for hydrogen production. The oil and gas industry is smitten by blue hydrogen, produced from natural gas with carbon capture technology that promises to significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Regions with an abundance of renewable energy are betting on green hydrogen, which uses electrolysis powered by electricity from renewables to produce hydrogen from water.

Turquoise hydrogen uses a process called pyrolysis that separates natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon and can be used in products like tires. There is also growing interest in pink hydrogen, where nuclear energy is used to produce hydrogen.

Train engines, heavy transport trucks, experimental jet engines and electricity-generating turbines are already using hydrogen as fuel. Ballard Power Systems has developed a marine fuel cell for use in ships and is working on a drive system that runs on ammonia. There is a staggering amount of innovation happening in this fledgling industry.

We are also making progress on slowing the destruction of nature. An agreement was reached at COP15 in Montreal to protect 30 per cent of land and water habitats by 2030. Hitting that target will require massive restoration efforts because many countries don’t have enough natural habitats to meet their commitment.

The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) aims to reverse biodiversity loss, sets funding targets to ensure money and resources get where they are needed most, protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and creates goals to preserve the benefits and ecosystems services provided by nature.

The regenerative agriculture movement is working to restore the health of our agricultural soils and ensure food systems aren’t dependent on the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. In a pattern we’re all familiar with, “Big Chem” claims the world can only be fed by continued use of their products. The scientific and anecdotal evidence does not support this narrative.

We are witnessing an incredible renaissance, which may one day be recognized as the greatest revolution of our time. There is reason to hope for a better future, but the forces working against that future must not be underestimated. The movement to protect nature, transition away from fossil fuels and create an equitable society won’t achieve critical mass without supporters, adopters, innovators and foot soldiers. Every one of us has a part to play in transforming our world into something better.



Rob Miller at Canada’s National Observer

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