As I read the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC Sixth Assessment, Summary for Policymakers 2021), I was surprised. Not by the content. We have been hearing about wildfire and floods and melting glaciers for years. We have read we have until 2030 to make real change in our carbon emissions. We know the world’s climate scientists are alarmed.
What surprised me was the language.
In my experience submitting and peer-reviewing scientific papers, the review process usually results in the addition of caveats and more nuanced conclusions. Science is a conservative process and scientists, in general, are
cautious souls. The end result: peer-reviewed papers lack exaggeration. As it should be.
The bold language in the latest IPCC report, with 234 co-authors and thousands of reviewers, is startling: unequivocal, virtually certain, extremely likely. For example:
- Observed increases in well-mixed greenhouse gas concentrations since around 1750 are unequivocally caused by human activities.
- It is virtually certain that the global upper ocean (0–700 m) has warmed since the 1970s and extremely likely that human influence is the main driver.
These are strong words for scientists who typically revel in nuance.
I wrote a piece a few years ago, after the record-breaking summer of 2019, about trying to move from outrage to action. I was deliberately trying to push away my emotional response to the void of climate leadership by seeking and finding signs of optimism at the local level.
Now, with increasingly little patience for hand waving from politicians, I have shifted into a more practical mindset of science and solutions. And, the science is clear (as it was decades ago)—so it’s time to get to solutions.
At Inletkeeper, our solutions to the climate crisis are centered in the desire to reduce further harm to our ecosystems, avoid more suffering for Alaskans, and to build resilient local economies and just communities for generations to come.
Our climate solutions for the Cook Inlet watershed include limiting lower Cook Inlet oil and gas development and expansion; stopping toxic oil and gas dumping into beluga whale and fish habitat; increasing access to renewable energy; supporting carbon-reducing community actions; protecting cold-water refugia for salmon resiliency and building a local food economy.
You might ask: Why is a watershed group doing anything other than focusing on clean water? Our answer: Because, like 70 percent of respondents to our recent watershed survey, we agree that climate change is the top concern facing Cook Inlet. And that means to protect the water, we must dig into the policies, obstacles, information gaps and community infrastructure needs to find the solutions and voices that will help us turn the tide on emissions.
While science will continue to be critical to our understanding of tipping
points and new vulnerabilities, we are moving boldly towards climate solutions for the Cook Inlet watershed.
Thank you for reading. We are able to do this work because of member support from concerned citizens like you. Please donate today to protect Cook Inlet for our future generations.