Addressing climate change will require many solutions. There is no magic bullet. Yet nearly all of these solutions exist today, and many of them hinge on humans changing the way they behave, shifting the way humans make and consume energy. The required changes span technologies, behaviors, and policies that encourage less waste and smarter use of our resources.
But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety.
And yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. Our uncertainty about uncertainty stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible.
The way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve.
The altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial.
So, forget about deadlines. The simple truth is that stopping climate change gets harder if we leave it later. It is like putting off paying your credit card bill. The interest just keeps mounting and the total bill gets ever worse.
There is no cutoff point, except bankruptcy – which is best avoided. Climate change is our bill coming due, and we would do better to pay up now before the interest starts spiking.