There’s good reason for optimism that the climate crisis is “more fixable than we thought” in the wake of this month’s alarming science assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate scientist Kate Marvel argues in a new interview with podcaster Mary Annaïse Heglar.
To anyone who’s a newcomer to the climate conversation, the basic message in the IPCC report is “welcome. We need you,” Marvel tells Heglar, who co-produces the Hot Take climate and environmental justice podcast with investigative journalist Amy Westervelt.
“This can has been kicked down the road for so long that there are bad effects already happening and certain things are already locked in,” Marvel says. “But that does not mean that action does not matter, and it does not mean that we cannot partially turn this thing around.”
Which means “the message of the report is complex. You can’t procrastinate for as long as we have. But it also says, look, the climate cares about how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere and you can be part of the solution. You can be part of the enormous group of people who are going to need to turn this thing around.”
Marvel stresses that her optimism does not come from any sense that everything that has been lost to climate change can be restored.
“But for a long time, we thought that carbon dioxide was forever,” she says. Now, it’s clear that “if we stop [emitting greenhouse gases], we can really control this thing.” While that outcome is still a long way away, Marvel points to the progress to date in getting the pace of future emissions under control.
“We used to be on a trajectory for like four or five degrees warming with current trajectory business as usual,” she told Heglar. Now, “we’re on track for about three degrees. Stated commitments will get us to like two and a half. I want to make it really clear I do not want to live in a world that is three degrees or two and a half degrees. That is not good enough, but it is going in the right direction. We just need to pull it down faster.”
Find out more about Heglar’s and Westervelt’s Hot Take podcast here.