What should have happened? How society should have responded to climate change

The problem of climate change from burning of fossil fuels has been known about for decades, but the action taken has been inadequate.
It is worth considering what should have happened.
In summary
  • climate scientists should have explained the key points of the scientific consensus
  • government scientists should have echoed this explanation.
  • governments should have
    • listened carefully
    • implemented effective policies
  • the media should have conveyed the situation accurately to the general population.
  • businesses and other organisations should have implemented change.
  • quality control measures should have worked - so errors in decision making should have been corrected due to scrutiny by
    • media
    • commentators
    • advocacy groups, campaigners and protesters.
Very little of this has happened.

The scientific consensus

Decision making based on facts and fairness

Children develop a sense of fairness at an early age. Adults generally develop this inate sense of fairness into opinions and actions that aim to protect weaker members of society. To some extent, protecting weaker members of society is in everyone's personal interest since everyone can fall on misfortune. In democracies, those in positions of power are expected to behave according to specified standards, so that they do not abuse their power. These standards are set out in national codes of conduct and in international agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [3]

What should have happened?

The end result

The end result should have been a good response by all sections of society, so that


[1]IPCC (Oct 2018) SR15 Summary for policymakers https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2018/07/SR15_SPM_version_stand_alone_LR.pdf
[2]IPCC (Oct 2018) SR15 report headline statements https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Headline-statements.pdf
[3]The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Proclamation by the General Assembly of the United Nations http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html

First published: 20 Dec 2021
Last updated: 22 Sep 2023