The Paris Climate Agreement aimed to avoid a “catastrophic” 2ºC increase in global temperatures. We have just a decade left to cut current carbon emissions by half, and unfortunately we are nowhere near achieving this goal. Here’s what happens if we hit the more likely scenario of 3-4º increase:
As a result, over the next 80 years:
- At least 600 million people worldwide will become climate refugees. That’s like everyone in North and South America combined losing their homes.
- Europe and much of Africa will experience droughts lasting decades.
- Food production will drop by at least one third even as the population balloons past 10 billion people.
It’s already here.
Global warming isn’t something that will impact us in the future; it’s already here. A “Bomb Cyclone” in Nebraska. Droughts leading to war (Syria), mass suicides (India’s farmers), uprisings (Arab Spring). Storms destroying entire states (Puerto Rico, Mozambique).viagra
What should entrepreneurs do?
Global warming is a byproduct of capitalism and consumer culture, so entrepreneurs should probably be the first against the wall when the next generation figures out what we’ve done. But a replacement to capitalism with real traction behind it hasn’t yet emerged, so for now this is the system we’re stuck with. Can we harness the power and creativity of entrepreneurship to tackle serious problems? Maybe.
Invest in prevention, rescue, and survival.
- Prevent climate change (or limit the damage that’s already done) with renewable energy: solar, wind, hydro as well as by dramatically ramping up nuclear power. Reduce the environmental impact of food production with alternative meats, milks, and agricultural practices. Stop spending your time and resources creating wasteful products.
- Rescue the millions who will lose their homes from storms, tornados, fires, and rising seas with low-cost modular housing, software to connect refugees with services, and tools that amplify the work of first responders.
- Survive our chaotic, hot, and dangerous world by building self sufficient communities. Modular power, local food production, community-based sharing systems, and local water retention and filtration capabilities. Survive by moving more of our food production indoors, and by building more resilient housing.
The past 20 years of venture-funding has focused on software and it’s common to assert that VC’s avoid investing in hardware companies. But the problems of the future are physical ones requiring physical solutions. Investors will start seeing the value of physical machinery and systems that save and preserve lives because those will matter more than the next generation of ad tech. The next 20 years will be all about hardware.
Bet against rigidity.
Bet against systems that are rigid and locked into long-term agreements. Banks holding tons of debt by way of mortgages? Doomed. Business models with long payback periods? Doomed.
What should you do if you’re not an entrepreneur?
Examine the impact of your current work and or your current studies in the context of global warming and decide which side you want to be on. How useful do you want to be in the coming future? This could mean quitting lucrative jobs, changing the business model, leaving money on the table, and basically making some sacrifices.
Addressing poverty today is an important piece of addressing climate change.
It’s more urgent than ever that we improve communication, access to water, to education and housing for the entire globe because without these things, already vulnerable populations have even less chance of surviving climate change.
We’re all in this together.
The impacts of climate change promise to be so vast, and our economies are so interconnected, that probably no region, country, or town will be spared. For such a huge problem, all of us need to jump into action. Working on anything outside of climate-related work is re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.