Espace Presse – How to limit climate change?

This article is an excerpt from an exchange called “Science itself! », organized by CEA and CENTQUATRE-PARIS.

Man’s face to the forces of nature

Laurent Gaude : In my fictional universe, nature sometimes speaks violently and suddenly, as in novels the hurricane, when Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. I describe two dimensions that meet, a climate tragedy that halts human life and a small world of people who fight against it. This is perhaps the common theme of many of my books, these extreme events that reveal human nature.

Valerie Mason-Delmot : the hurricane Really touched me. It tells how we try to survive in a city where nothing works, where poor people live in flood zones. We can clearly see that we are not prepared for a changing climate, even in rich countries like the United States. This is still the case in 2022.

Climate justice

VM-D. : Social, climate and intergenerational justice issues are very present when we talk about climate change. More than three billion people are very vulnerable to it. You show this very well in your novel the hurricane And Eldorado.

LG : This dimension was also at the origin of its writingthe hurricaneWhich fairly quickly introduces political anger into the story, as the poorest are neglected.

VM-D. : On this climate issue, there is also a generation gap, a form of injustice. Western countries have a historical responsibility. We have inadvertently contributed to a very significant savings in CO emissions2. The younger generation carries it on their shoulders. Often, those who have the responsibility and the levers for action lose their ability to act by placing the emotional burden of climate action on the youngest child. I was appalled when I heard MPs, to whom I presented the findings of one of the recent IPCC reports, tell me: “But everything is fine, since we are teaching children about climate change, everything is moving forward.”. If we don’t act to heighten the stakes today, the youngest will have to adapt to a climate that is getting warmer with increased damage, loss, but also costs..

A Copernican Revolution

LG : The breadth of this response that is asked of us will make a deep impression in my opinion The Copernican Revolution In all areas: personal and everyday life, choice, but faith. Who will be the god of this post-revolutionary world? Does the concept of progress still have any meaning? Will nature become a matter of conviction again? It also questions sovereignty and territory. Amazon forest, for example, only Brazilian?

VM-D. : In fact, if we want to stop global warming, we must reduce global CO emissions as quickly as possible.2 Net zero, and also Drastically reduce methane emissions. The sooner we get there, the weaker the warming will be. It is difficult, but there are many levers of action available, the feasibility of which has been established. This will be necessary in terms of energy Decarbonized power generation And electrify everything else. Land use and agricultural practices are another lever. A more plant-based diet, for example, reduces pressure on land, allowing more space to store carbon and preserve ecosystems. Can support urban systemscircular economy, energy efficiency, low carbon mobility, etc. Controlling the demand for energy, animal protein or even non-renewable materials makes it possible to transform production systems more quickly towards sustainability. And so, yes, these changes raise very profound questions lifestyle Which together we are going to make possible. I am also convinced that in society, profound changes come from the base, followed by political forces that then impose themselves at the governing level.

Removing barriers to sustainable combating climate change

LG : The solution will, I think, be above all political. And despite my infinite frustration I put politics far above… Constructive, bold action must be taken. But to tell myself that they will improve not my world but the one after me requires rejection and a strong inner morality. Qualities slightly at odds with a political world that lives by short deadlines for re-election.

VM-D. : The brakes are still numerous: aversion to change, particularly strong in Europe; mistrust of government; very deep economic and political blockade; Inadequate integration of current and future climate change information into public decision-making. For example, it needs to be taken into account Increase in intensity of extreme precipitation by 7% per degree of warming For today’s infrastructures, so that they function properly in a changing climate. I would add to this the absence of clearly established responsibilities, especially of political decision-makers, both in keeping commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in the ability to implement adaptation strategies that bring together all actors and knowledge.

show achievement

VM-D. : It is important to show success, not just risk. we have In the 1980s scientific precautions managed to avoid major destruction of the ozone layer. Scenarios of very large increases in greenhouse gas emissions are now less plausible due to public policies already in place: some countries have already peaked, followed by a slow decline in emissions of these gases; Technological advances now make it possible to produce low-carbon electricity at affordable prices, etc. It’s also important to see things moving forward, even if it’s not moving fast enough or far enough.

LG : You say that the worst trajectories are avoided. But we never hear it, it’s a shame…

Sharing climate knowledge

VM-D. : Knowledge sharing is needed to convince decision makers and the public about the urgency of acting on climate change. there Because understanding is a real challenge, What is a changing climate, its impact, in each region, levers for action, adaptation strategies. It’s media, science fiction, school curriculum work that needs further updating, etc., and from time to time, novels.

LG : I deeply believe in the power of novels. I am always sure that writing can have an impression on the world. About the climate, about the new contract between man and nature, stories need to capture it. Because they create other effects in the reader, leaving in them deep and lasting reflections. The word courage, for example, of a population that must flee an extreme climate event, does not exist in the lexicon of journalists and is normal. On the other hand, it also has its place in novels.

VM-D. : I hope that just isn’t there Netflix Which explores denial and unwanted futures, as such don’t look at Cosmic denial. Can you use the IPCC reports to turn them into literary works? We already have a trilogy with our three working groups!

LG : Absolutely. If successful in European construction by writing We are Europe, the feast of the peoplesI think I might try it in the climate, but give me at least two years…

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