The next BIG THING
The human brain is a weird organ. It can solve complicated math equations, yet it fails us when making decisions that are simple but that can determine if we live or die. If someone promises us a quick and painless solution, we tend to believe them even if it lacks basic logic.
We watch the news and are eager to try out all the new technologies and gadgets that will soon be part of our life. We are unable to imagine a complete change of an hundred-year-old paradigm, even though this change can be inevitable and can increase the quality of our lives in the long run.
What if I told you that such a change is coming and that your government has already decided on it?
The process that will change everything is called decarbonization .
Decarbonization means that by a specific date (worldwide consensus is by 2050) we reduce greenhouse emissions to zero. That means not only CO₂ but also Methane and other gases. Scientists and policymakers believe that the process of decarbonization can keep the Earth’s rapidly increasing temperature within 2°C above the pre-industrial level 
And while 2050 seems like a distant future, it is just 31 years from now, which implies that we need to decrease the production of greenhouse gases by an average of 3% annually. That is a lot.
If you feel somewhat tricked now, and your reaction is “oh what!!!” let me remind you that you have been informed four years in advance.
Paris Agreement was signed in 2015  and it was all over the news including the endorsement by Leonardo DiCaprio in a role of a Messenger of Peace.
It was just now that the first countries pledged to decarbonize their economies, and if you can read in between the lines, the others will follow, even though it will take years for some of the more conservative ones to jump in.
And here is the point where our brain fails us badly.
After many years of studying Climate Change and talking about it with people around me, finally there is almost nobody who would deny the fact that the climate is changing.
But when I talk about decarbonization, I see the same set of reactions: “Yes there is Climate Change, but we humans are not responsible for it”.
Human-induced Climate Change is backed by 20 years of research, with more than 13 thousand scientific studies and papers supporting the theory (only 3% of the studies denying the theory, mainly ones funded by oil companies). But instead of being convinced by the abundance of facts, we tend to believe an obscure blog, an uninformed friend, a disgruntled politician or a weird theory that enables us to believe whatever we want to believe.
Because the change in front of us, it is so big that our brain is simply unable to process it.
The argument that I hear the most often all around me is that the climate is changing in natural cycles, based on solar activity.
Yes, people who say this are right.
The solar activity oscillates in time .
But the thing is that we are in the cold cycle now and the solar activity has been decreasing since 1950, and as soon as we reach the warm period the s**t will hit the fan.
But is decarbonization really coming?
The price of oil is on a record low, and CO₂ emissions increase by 2% annually , and soon after Canada declared a state of Climate Emergency (probably because of 21 massive forest fires in Alberta) it also approved new 5.5bn pipeline project 
Gulfstream, Boeing  and Airbus are unable to satisfy the demand for new planes, and the capacity of cargo vessels is sold out many months in advance.
Not a surprise for me. The amount of draft horses in Europe reached its highest record just before the steam engine and combustion engine was widely implemented, and the printing industry peaked precisely in the time when the Internet left universities and become a mass medium.
And here is another point, where our brain fails us even severely.
Among those few people in the World that accept the fact about decarbonization as an inevitable step for humankind, most of them see it as a restrictive process that will lead to lowering the quality of our lives.
Not at all.
What will decrease the quality of life is extreme weather, floods, droughts and famine. But mainly in the form of climatological migration. 140 million people will have to leave their home by 2050 (the official estimate by the World Bank) due to the rising seas, inhabitable heat and lack of freshwater. Those are the results of Climate Change, not decarbonization. And if you happen to be living in a developed country, high above the estimated level of a rising sea, let me remind you, that climate migrants will want to become our neighbours , or at least they will want us to help them materially.
The decarbonization is not the process that should make our lives miserable. It is the process that should make it better, at least in the long term.
Please allow me to jump into a minefield of estimates and speculation. I assure you that I have zero qualification for it, too. Not mentioning the fact that as a pilot of helicopter and jat I am hypocrite.
I believe, that decarbonization will be the most significant economic stimulus since the industrial revolution and it can make our lives healthier and happier in the long run.
Decarbonization will be the most significant economic stimulus since the industrial revolution.
If you look at our economies, you see fossil fuels all around us. Cars, boats, chemistry, power plants, heavy industry. All this should be replaced with new technologies. “Technologies yet to be invented,” said Bill Gates, who also sees decarbonization  as the next BIG THING and invests massively into it . Needless to say that his fund is backed by few other visionary billionaires.
Even now, when the process has not yet started, the stocks of renewable energy companies gain 100% annually. And the same will apply to the whole industry. Any patent, technology or a startup that will help us cut greenhouse gases, produce clean energy, store energy, provide fresh water or food and mainly proteins in a time of need, will be valued by markets and investors the most. Massive scientific grants and subsidies will also pour into this industry.
Imagine that the most prominent investors in this field will be big fossil and oil tycoons, not because they will not have another choice, but also because it can repair their damaged reputation.
One of the main reasons people are afraid of decarbonization is the fear of losing their job. It has been already proven that renewable energy, conservation or for example sustainable agriculture creates more jobs than the standard fossil economy.
The wealth and low unemployment we enjoying now is not the result of fossil-fuel-based economy. It is a result of the high complexity of our society.
Decarbonization, energy conservation and sustainable agriculture will lead to even higher complexity.
Decarbonization will lead to the redistribution of wealth
All this technological shift comes at a price, and someone will have to foot the bill. So far, we live in a world where our national product is based on cheap fossil fuel, and yet we are unable to keep a balanced budget even in times of prosperity.
But half of the World's net wealth belongs to the top 1%, and there is one thing the wealthy people fear the most: That they will lose their fortune.
I predict massive demonstrations and uprisings in next years demanding to do some climate action.
And I personally believe that in the face of increasing public pressure, wealthy people will offer part of their wealth to help solve the problem. Not only that. That they will use their charisma and power to convince policymakers to take action. This process had already started when few wealthy Americans repeatedly called for higher taxation of the rich, in order to solve climate-related issues.
Wealthy people recognize that we live in relative social peace, and if there is one thing they wish, is to keep it that way. Anyway, they are also aware of the fact that their wealth is useless if the whole society collapses.
Fun fact: When Extinction rebellion movement started its protests in London, the number of private jet flights dropped by 10% there, despite the 3% gain in other parts of the World.
Decarbonization could bring completely new technologies enhancing our lives
The mobile phone in your own pocket has better parameters than the average computer and digital camera combined 20 years ago. And in a few years, a new version of your phone will be even better, and since it will definitely make it to the main headlines, it will give you false feeling, that technology advances fast and it increases the quality of your life.
That is not true. Technology has stagnated a lot in the recent years, and it often creates more problems than it solves.
Some of the latest widely adopted technologies even decrease the quality of our everyday life. First research papers have appeared, linking smartphones use to decrease in our cognitive abilities, not mentioning the amount of accidents caused by texting & driving. Social networks are even worse. Destroying the privacy of millions, separating relationships, slowly undermining oldest democracies and isolating people that have different opinions.
Research and development nowadays is not driven by the needs of our societies and people, but by the potential profits of huge monopolies.
Breakthrough technologies that influence our everyday life were invented during WWII, most home appliances were invented just after that and computers and Internet came 50 years ago. Space exploration and experiments in quantum physics have been ongoing for a long time now, although we already know that Mars is uninhabitable and quantum physics can not solve our energy needs in the foreseeable future.
Decarbonization can change all of that.
A few years ago, I bought an electric vehicle. But I have not bought it just because its energetic efficiency, but because driving electric vehicle is so much more convenient than driving a traditional car. It is quiet, it is fast, it does not smell, it does not need service, it is almost free to operate, it is safe, and in the evening I just plug it in. An electric car is not only earth friendly (if I buy renewable energy only), it gives you a completely different quality of driving.
But the first company to build electric vehicles was not a Tesla. In 1996 General Motors rolled out 1,117 electric vehicles and leased them to test drivers (including some Hollywood celebrities). When GM decided to end the tests, drivers refused to give it back since they loved to drive it. But GM succeeded, destroyed project, scraped the cars and hoped that nobody will notice how great that car was  They just did not want to disrupt their monopoly.
That is exactly what we need now. In the world of huge monopolies, that only want to maximize their profits, we need to break from the old status quo and finally come up with something new. 
Imagine that decarbonization will force monopolies, start ups, research institutions, and universities to search for new technologies that will change the old paradigms in other fields of our everyday's life.
Humankind is capable of huge things, if it is pushed to its limits. We knew nothing about atom energy before project Manhattan  yet in the prospect of the Nazis inventing an atom bomb, we were able to reach impossible achievements in less than 4 years.
I personally believe that we will see more project Manhattans in the future, and I am eager to see all this technology breakthrough that will make our lives better and replace such insignificant innovations as new version of a mobile phone.
Decarbonization will lead to a healthier population
The number one cause of premature death in the World is air pollution, killing approximately 9 million people in a year. It is more than wars, obesity, smoking, and malnutrition 
The second place in premature deaths is so-called civilization diseases. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
The world we are living in looks like this, so we take it for granted, and our brain that fails us in the most important decisions of our life is unable to imagine something better.
We perceive as inevitable the fact that 33% of adults in the US have prediabetes or that 72% of US adults aged 20+ are overweight (including 8% with severe obesity). And thus profits of food processing industry and health industry are soaring to record highs, inevitably helping each other.
Also, can you imagine that the air you are breathing in is clean? Can you imagine, that instead of going to the gym and doing some stupid activity on a treadmill, you will do your daily errands just by walking or bicycling, because it will be a most convenient way to do so? And it will be a pleasure to do so because cities will be filled with cars that do not smell and are quiet.
But can you imagine that you change and reduce your diet, just because the food will not be so cheap any more? Not mentioning that the most expensive stuff will probably be red meat, which was proven to be carcinogenic .
Can you imagine that every day, you will fall asleep almost instantly, and that you will sleep like a baby, being nicely tired from several miles of cycling/walking you did that day?
For the past four years, I use my own body to experiment in this field. I commute to work on a kick scooter almost daily (20km / 12 miles). I do not touch processed food, stopped eating sugar, fruits and gluten and eat meat just occasionally.
My body reacted almost instantly. People guess I am 25 (I am 45) and except for many small residual issues from my adrenaline-sport-related injuries, I have never been healthier and felt better.
Human DNA is basically the same for the past 70.000 years, accustomed to a lot of walking, physical activity, and a diet rich in fibre, that contained meat just occasionally. It is only the last few generations, when our lifestyle was utterly changed, leaving our bodies chronically ill.
I believe that decarbonization will force us to use our bodies to work as they are supposed to work: Move more and eat less.
Decarbonization will increase overall happiness of people
The material quality of life of today’s average person greatly surpasses the quality of life of the wealthiest emperors of the past. We can keep our bodies at the perfect temperature, we buy a lot of useless stuff. We eat an abundance of food imported from all over the World, and we travel just for fun like crazy. Not mentioning perfect health care that did not exist a few years ago.
But does it make us happy?
Not at all.
I believe that the unhappiness of our “have it all” generation is driven by three primary reasons:
We have too much choice in our lives. Scientific theory “paradox of choice” proves that having too many options makes you unhappy.
The second reason is that we have no higher meaning of life. We are just born, we work, and then we die.
The third reason is that we live in a perfect World free of any imminent danger. Yes, it was also scientifically proven that we humans need some level of risk, stress on insecurity to unveil our full potential.
Now imagine that people will realize Climate Change as a threat and that abundant and luxurious life is not in accordance with sustainable Earth climate.
Imagine that people will voluntarily limit their own choices just to help our future generations.
All three problems of human unhappiness are solved. The imminent threat is there (overheating planet), no more paradox of choice and BINGO, there is something more relevant we can live for. Live for the planet.
During the major world wars of this century in both participating and non-participating nations, an increase in suicide rates declined during the war. Regarding common population health issues, people were extremely healthy.
The idea of people voluntarily limiting the choices is not crazy at all. Mass psychosis can move our burn & waste societies in completely different direction. We just have to wait till our kids will have serious talk with us.
And if the wealthy folks are also affected by decarbonization people will have the feeling that there is justice in the World, and life is fair for everybody.
When I have accidentally learned that EU finance NGOs to communicate the change we are facing, I have finally realized that this is really coming. One of the presentation EU Commission sent to this NGO contained sociological research. Among all the stuff, one line struck me deeply: People will accept the change, as long as it is fair and will apply to everybody.
And that pretty much sums it up.
Updated 12.7.2019: Added note that I am hypocrite
I really like the spirit of this post and I agree to pretty much everything you stated. I am however worried, that adoption of decarbonisation is not progressing close to fast enough. I am also worried that the 2°C goal is not ambitious enough. Changes in the planets albedo, defrosting the permafrost may bring up irreversible change before the 2° carbon budget is exhausted.
To remain inside the 1.5°C limit we only have like 8 years left at current exhaust. While I believe that a future decarbonised society will be a happier place, I also believe that climate catastrophe is inevitable. The 140*10^6 expected refugees will happen and we will loose coastal lines around the planet. I am not sure what's left of the eco system will be able to sustain our species.
I nevertheless think that this next big thing is the next big thing, and we must proceed at highest speed regardless.
Germany to close all 84 of its coal-fired power plants ....
An interesting and stimulating post that I'm sure will generate further discussion, thank you @ivo
...there is almost nobody who would deny the fact that the climate is changing.
But when I talk about decarbonization, I see the same set of reactions: “Yes there is Climate Change, but we humans are not responsible for it”...
A small comment that I would like to add from a pragmatic (practical, sensible and realistic) point of view is "So What".
So what if humans are not responsible for Climate Change.
It doesn't really matter who is responsible. It is time to move past this question and discussion about blame (or not) and simply understand that change is happening anyway.
Sometimes change is unwanted, and sometimes it is unpleasant, just like our daily and yearly personal lives can be too.
In the same way the best reaction is to accept that change will happen, and is happening, and it is inevitable, for all of us. We cannot escape it.
And as in our personal lives, let's try to adapt, let's change too, and let's try to at least counter the effects of change to maintain the status quo in our lives, and if possible even make an improvement.
I think we can all agree that we would like to improve our lives :)
pavelneuman last edited by
Wow, great post, especially the happiness part. Thumbs UP!
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Thank you :)
Great article! Thank you for summing up all these thoughts.
Great article, but I feel like it is basicly impossible to do 0 CO2 emissions in 2050.
I mean even if we would replace all cars with electric and used only 100% renowable energy to charge them (which this task alone seems quite impossible). There are still airplanes, huge cargo ships, heavy industry etc. where zero emissions alternatives are not even in sight yet...
It seems like we are not going to have good enough 0 emissions energy source to power planes or cargo ships in 100+ years...
Nuclear seems to be one of the ways to go, but there are obvious major risks with it.
Batteries to store electric energy have huge limits based on bacis physics. I just can not imagine airliner or cargo ship powered by batteries by 2050. We already have this technology 100+ years but it really did not improve too much during all those years.
I feel like the most impact could be done by stopping population explosion in developing countries and stopping destruction of tropical forrest etc., which are countering CO2 a lot.
I am afraid that we cannot expect that majority of people will voluntarily change their mind. Heavy taxation will do the job, but if everything will be more expensive - energy, travelling, food, transportation etc... that does not sound like paradise for 'average Joe' (=person who does not care about long-term outcomes...).
Who will vote policymaker which will promise that everything will be more expensive ? :(
What do you think about hot-house earth scenarios ?
@ivo heat increase carbonization, not carbonization increase heat. IPCC is simple mob organization.
0 emisiones el 2050...
No obstante la ruta está marcada.
@spazik The solution is not the technology, much more important is the behaviour - changing the way of life, our daily routines. Technology can greatly help.
But we have to have goal to page the way to achieve that. We will be lost in our way without as goal.
silwallace last edited by
all this is a fantazy
This is the Story of LIFE
Make its voice loud to be heard by All.
This is very well composed and positive article. Thank you @ivo! We should definitely give this article more publicity.
I would say: People should quickly learn to "think globally". And then "cooperate globally". World is shared, world is finite and we already reached its limit.
@TZ dekuji nacelniku ze ses mne zastal :-)
cobachotix last edited by
Great article, very positive and hopefully inspiring many, many people to REALLY follow decarbonization as a daily task. We will not need 30 Years, if TODAY, we ALL consider OURSELVES as responsible INSTANTLY and REALLY act accordingly. I guess we could reduce by 90% all our carbon-stimullatig activities, if we simply see that everyone does it. Articles as this do help to create that finaly convincement human being always needs to change. Thank you to the Author.
1rst Spark last edited by
@silwallace yes it is; you know it and I know it, and a few others as well, but the majority of us will believe anything that the media beats into our brains
100 super container ships produce as much pollution as all the cars in the world
Approximately every 100,000 years, Earth's orbital path changes from being nearly circular to elliptical.
I don't know the answers. There is a lot of wrong data out there. Wrong theories and wrong ideas.
Perfectly stated article, hopefully not too late. No further discussion. Its all here for everyone to see. Lets just do it, get on with it, and save this planet for our Children and their children. Its big corporate interests that has held us back, killed any innovation of the past. So lets just get it done. Every one of us needs to make a difference to climate change and plastic pollution. Save our animal species from extinction. Lets do it. Bruce South Africa 🇿🇦