The urgency of the measures to be taken is sometimes discussed. Two types of argument are put forward to delay the decisions:
- A first argument is to consider that the future remains uncertain. The degree of uncertainty is considered as an argument for biding time, with the hope that in the future we will be in a better position to assess the situation and optimise the strategy to be applied.
- A second argument is based on the idea that new technologies will emerge during the next few years, placing us in a better position to tackle the problem. This opinion, which reflects the stance taken by the current American administration, relies on the development of new technologies to provide the right solutions in time.
In addition to these arguments, we are faced with the psychological difficulty of tackling a future catastrophe, which has not yet happened even if it is imminent. As J.-P. Dupuy4 wrote: 'knowing is not believing' and it is difficult for us to imagine a future catastrophe and even more
4 A French scientist and philosophe.
difficult to take action accordingly . These arguments and this psychological context merit close analysis.
Analysis of the potential impact of climate change indicates that it is essential to act immediately, by launching a decisive action plan designed to reduce CO2 emissions:
- There is increasingly convincing evidence demonstrating the risk of major catastrophes if a suitable response is not found. The observations and the forecasts of the models available all converge to the same conclusion.
- If the actions required to reduce CO2 emissions are delayed, it will prove increasingly difficult to respect the limits which must not be exceeded to avoid catastrophic effects. The longer we continue behaving as we do now, in other words increasing the quantities emitted every year, the more drastic the future reduction will have to be; we will reach a point of no return when it will be quite impossible to reach the targeted objective.
- The more we deviate from the current equilibrium, the more the uncertainties concerning the maximum amplitude of the climatic differences increase, with a rapidly growing risk of totally uncontrolled phenomena. In addition, positive retroaction effects, such as the release of methane trapped as hydrates or the disappearance of a sea current may occur above a certain threshold, with sudden consequences.
The urgency of the measures to be taken is therefore evident. Given the contribution of fossil energies to CO2 emissions, it is vital to initiate without delay the energy transition which will allow us to prevent a major energy crisis as well as an irreversible climatic catastrophe. Strong action by the Public Authorities is therefore necessary, firmly backed by public opinion in the various countries.
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