Updated: Apr 16, 2021
I read or peruse hundreds of articles and studies about climate change and the environment each month for our environmental newsfeed. They are a compilation of scientific studies, editorial comment, political harangues and ingenious invention. By themselves each article tackles a component of the climate change drama. Taken together their tone and tenor create a narrative. If you step back far enough and look at them all at once you can see it. There have been three distinct narratives since the year 2005.
The third one is truly frightening: the white sky.
Narrative one: Renewable energy will save us - 2005 to 2015
During the first decade of the 21st century momentum was building. More and more people understood that climate change was real, caused by humans and potentially able to destroy us. However, we convinced ourselves that we have the technology and the time necessary to turn the tide. There were hundreds of articles on solar systems, electric cars, and wind turbines.
It was all still pretty primitive – a lot of talk, but most people figured that somebody will work it out by the year 2100 – not to worry.
Along with talk of warming temperatures a well-financed disinformation campaign driven by the fossil fuel giants blunted the momentum to get ahead of, or at least catch up with, the problem we were causing. They nurtured skepticism about climate change and poured millions into lobbying. Oil companies ruled the roost, and we are reminded that profit is still king.
Soon climate change became a political football embraced by one cultural tribe and shunned by the other. Any comprehensive political solution appeared unlikely.
Between 2000 and 2009 humans emitted over 284 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere – the most in history. Those 10 years may have cost us the ballgame.
Narrative two: Carbon capture and sequestration will be necessary to preserve the environment. 2015 to 2020
From 2015 to 2020 the narrative slowly changed. New environmental studies indicated that environmental collapse was advancing more rapidly than anticipated. Science made it clear we weren’t moving fa