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The Future We Choose

Surviving the Climate Crisis

By Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac
16-minute read
Audio available
The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac

The Future We Choose (2020) presents us with two potential visions of life on earth: one of sweltering heat, diminishing biodiversity, and severely declining quality of life, and one where the planet’s temperature has stabilized, life flourishes, and humanity prospers. The world we choose will depend on the actions we take now, in what is a critical decade in the fight against climate change. While the prospect may seem daunting, it’s time to rise to the challenge and determine our future.

  • Climate crusaders feeling hopeless about their cause
  • Anyone who wants to know how they can contribute to a sustainable world
  • Those worried about the future

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican diplomat who has chaired multiple international organizations and served as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016. During that period, she led six annual global climate negotiations that eventually resulted in the historic 2015 Paris Agreement.

Tom Rivett-Carnac is a British political lobbyist and former Buddhist monk who joined co-author Christiana Figureres as her chief political strategist during negotiations for the 2015 Paris Agreement. Formerly, he was president and CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project USA, a not-for-profit charity.

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The Future We Choose

Surviving the Climate Crisis

By Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac
Synopsis

The Future We Choose (2020) presents us with two potential visions of life on earth: one of sweltering heat, diminishing biodiversity, and severely declining quality of life, and one where the planet’s temperature has stabilized, life flourishes, and humanity prospers. The world we choose will depend on the actions we take now, in what is a critical decade in the fight against climate change. While the prospect may seem daunting, it’s time to rise to the challenge and determine our future.

Key idea 1 of 10

Unless we act now, we are on the path to an unlivable world.

Picture this. It’s morning, and you wake up and check your phone. You do this every day, not to respond to your text messages, but to read the air quality report and see if it’s safe to go outside. Through the window, you can see it’s a clear, sunny day, but your app tells you that air pollution and ozone levels are high. You will have to wear your specially designed face mask at all times. 

You’ll also have to cope with the intense heat. The world is much hotter now than it was when you were young, and there’s no longer anything that can be done to change that. 

The year is 2050. In another 50 years, many areas of the planet are likely to be uninhabitable.

The key message here is: Unless we act now, we are on the path to an unlivable world.

We’ll end up living in this hypothetical world even if we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius. In other words, this is our future, regardless of whether we achieve the main target of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. And once we reach a point where we can no longer control the warming, other tipping points follow. 

The melting of the Arctic ice sheets is one of the most critical. Since this white ice is responsible for reflecting large amounts of the sun’s heat away from earth, its melting proves utterly disastrous. Sea levels rise, and without the ice, we are now even more defenseless against hotter and hotter temperatures.

The rising seas also bring major flooding. Coastal cities across the globe have their infrastructure devastated, and while they flood, inland areas dry up. Heatwaves create deserts out of once-lush areas, and many places can no longer support any form of life. 

Extreme weather events, like hurricanes and tropical storms, are also more common than ever. The resulting destruction kills or displaces millions of people and creates a massive refugee crisis. 

Even the surviving cities aren’t exactly pleasant places to live now. In Paris, summer temperatures regularly hit 44 degrees Celsius or 111 Fahrenheit. And that’s nothing. In central India, temperatures reach 60 degrees Celsius (that’s 140 Fahrenheit) for 45 days of the year.

It’s fair to say that everyone is suffering deeply, enraged at the politicians and citizens of the past who refused to act in the face of the climate crisis.

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