Two new studies point to clear options facing the human race, as we struggle for planetary survival.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate reports that a massive overhaul of the world’s buildings, public transport and energy infrastructure is needed to prevent runaway climate change. The study points out that $90 trillion will be spent on such infrastructure over the next 15 years, but also that an urgent shift is needed to focus on low-carbon, energy-efficient projects, since “the window for making the right choices is narrow and closing fast.” Over 60% of the world’s greenhouse gases are associated with ageing power plants, roads, buildings, sanitation and other structures, and 1,500 coal plants are already in construction worldwide. This trajectory leads inevitably to increased deaths from respiratory illnesses and road accidents, degradation of drinking water and arable lands, and a cooked planet..
Can we afford a radical change away from this catastrophe? There are real options, such as ending the $550 billion annual subsidies to fossil fuels, greener energy infrastructure projects, and phasing out coal-fired power grids.
But the most fundamental change will be an end to the arms race. A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies says the United States spends 28 times more on its military than on climate change. The U.S. has allocated $21 billion for 2017 to transition to clean energy, but plans to spend $1 trillion to modernize its nuclear arsenal, and $1.4 trillion on building F-35 fighter jets.
The world can slash greenhouse gas emissions, or pour trillions of dollars into fossil fuels and weapons of war. But we can’t do both. The choice is stark: human survival or death by militarism. Unless we choose the first option, our children and grandchildren will face the terrible consequences.