Politics / Sweden / Thoughts and Experiences

Notes from Professor Johan Rockström

During my last week in Sweden we ventured out into the city for a lecture by Profesor Johan Rockström from Stockholm University. He was present at the Climate Change Conference (COP 21) held just weeks ago in Paris, and this is what he shared with us:

  • We are on our way to a 4 degree C increase by the end of the century, and the last time this happened was when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. We need to counteract this.
  • The Earth Statement advocates for staying below a 2 degree C increase, and ideally we should stay around a 1.5 degree C increase. Leaders present at the Summit agreed to this.
    • How can we make this possible?
    • How can we make this more accurate?
    • Can we have a fossil-free world by 2050?
  • “Your future is our responsibility.”
  • We are aiming to encourage a “beautiful, functioning, and stable planet.”
  • We know what we (as humans) need and want from this Earth:
    • There have been warm periods, interglacier periods, and holocene period.
    • Agriculture has allowed us to progress to where we are now.
    • The world as we know it is in the holocene period.
  • We know there has been a great acceleration.
  • The plant is meant to change:
    • But we are at a tipping point, which could act as humanity’s biggest threat.
    • We thought Antartica was invincable, but it is the oceans that are invincible – high specific heat capacity holds in all that warmth.
    • And burning fossil fuels leads to temperature increase, causing warmer oceans, which is why sea levels have rose by 58 meters.

Of course these are just a few brief points about Climate Change, but each is worth considering.

What I walked away with from this lecture was that we are in the era of change. We know that the industrial age has had rather detrimental impact on the Earth, and the way we live isn’t the best for a “beautiful, functioning, and stable” plant to survive. I am not recommending that we fufill a God-like role to stabilize the Earth because change is natural. However, humans are guilty of many many factors that have caused this increase of temperature. In terms of moving forward, we need to as a society venture towards clean energy and encourage methods of transportation and production that are less harmful than gas-guzzling vehicles and chemical-releasing factories.

It is not our sole responsibility to ‘fix’ the planet, but we have to, in all applicable aspects, do our part to ensure a healthy world for our children and our children’s children.

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