News flash: As COP26 began, the world was visited by three multilingual ghosts the size of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The first ghost appears and says, “I am the Ghost of Climate Change Past.”
“What is your business?” the people ask.
“Your welfare,” says the behemoth specter, which reaches out its hand and beckons the people of the world to come closer. The ghost takes the world on an epic journey.
The people are taken to Stockholms Högskola to watch Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius with pen in hand. The year? 1896. Arrhenius is finishing up his research on how much carbon dioxide it would take to alter global temperatures. After a year of number-crunching, he has finally come to the conclusion that if you doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, it would raise global temperatures by 5˚C. “Of course it would take 1,000 years for that to happen,” you hear him say with a faint chuckle.
“Bah,” the people exclaim. “You see? A 1,000 years? Dear Ghost, why do you waste my time?”
The people awaken and attribute the odd dream to something they ate.
A second ginormous ghost appears and says, “I am the Ghost of Climate Change Present.”
They are magically transported to the Dixie Fire in California where 960,000-plus acres have already been burned. As the world examines the scorched earth and inhales some of the leftover noxious fumes, the people learn that the second biggest wildfire in the state of California (at least since 1932) has generated its own pyrocumulus clouds, lightning and other dangerous weather conditions.
“It’s a dense cloud that you often see coming out of volcanoes,” the ghost explains. “The wildfires are actually creating weather,” the specter states.
“This is devastating to see,” the world says, “but we’re due for a good rain that will put an end to all this wildfire business. Not to worry. Things will get better.”
The spirit sighs. The people are transported back to their homes, and they attribute the strange dream to something they watched on Netflix the night before, something about “squid.”
Another ghost appears.
“Am I in the presence of the Ghost of Climate Change Yet to Come?” the people ask.
The ghost does not beckon or even answer at all.
They immediately are taken to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. They see a trickle of water coming from what was once a vibrant and beautiful waterfall.
It’s dark, so the people wonder where the power is. They then learn how the rehabilitation at the Kariba Dam is not allowing two generators to be used half the day.
The people are then taken to Kenya and see a swarm of desert locusts destroying acres of crops. They ask the spirit what’s going on, and it shows them its smartphone. Prolonged rains have produced enough vegetation to keep the locusts well-fed.
They then are taken to the Congo and see all the deforestation that has occurred, which has led to a drier climate. A drier climate, in turn, greatly affects biodiversity.
“This is our future?” asks the people.
The ghost turns around and reveals itself as the Ghost of Climate Change Present.
“This is now,” the ghost responds. “The future is in your hands. What future do you want?”
Why COP26 Is So Important
The article “Our Last, Best Chance on Climate” explains why the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is so important. They vow to read it.
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that human existence is fragile and perilous,” the authors wrote. “However, if we do not take action now against climate change, the damage could be even greater and more lasting than the effects of the pandemic.”
In other words, if you’re asking, “What do you hope comes out of COP26, and what do you think must be done to address climate change?” then you’re missing the point. It’s not a question of what we hope or think should happen; we know what needs to happen to prevent further climate change. The question is: As a global community, are we finally ready to do what needs to be done?
Through innovation designed to accelerate decarbonization, addressing and solving Scope 3 emissions, and developing a strategy for moving toward net zero and perhaps beyond it, companies can do their part to help change the world through integrated ESG software, reliable data and expertise.
As Hannes Partl, a Sphera director of sustainability consulting, said on the SpheraNOW podcast: “Climate change: It will not destroy our planet. I have no concerns at all about the future of our planet, but if we don’t act now, it will be a different planet, and it’s a threat to mankind, to humanity. And what can we do? Many people, including management, boards, supervisory boards and politicians and consumers alike are realizing that improved sustainability performance, including a low carbon economy, is essential to future-proof our societies and companies. So that’s what gives me hope that we will be able to steer clear of the worst.”
By the way, if you want to have a quick look into the future, this report is very alarming. At the rate we’re going with temperature change, it says that Africa’s tropical ice fields in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, Kenya’s Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania will be gone by 2040 if we don’t do something. The 118 million extremely poor people in those regions will also be subjected to drought, floods and extreme heat, the report explains.
It might be a little too early to start thinking of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but it’s never too soon to be thinking about climate change. The clock is ticking to meet the Paris Agreement goals, and we as a global community cannot afford to cop out now.