Over the weekend, 2,000 scientists representing 16,000 scientists from over 100 countries launched their strongest warning to date that time is running out to save the planet from the climate crisis. It’s a detailed set of research and plans of action that could bring us a lot closer to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has been advising governments for 30 years, called “the limit of humanity’s ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change” – a 1.5-degree Celsius average temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. There’s more ahead, the most urgent piece of the puzzle now is to get people to act quickly. Governments can create green jobs and improve basic infrastructure, but we need both to change along with fast enough to avert catastrophe. The action in Scotland has been important, but so too has the science by example. As scientists warn that “the window is closing fast” for a response that will keep us below a 1.5-degree increase, it’s worth considering which has more impact: debating the science or investing in a life-saving solution.
The urgent need to act on climate is not just stated in the face of overwhelming evidence from science. The U.S. government led the world’s efforts to prevent a 2015 global agreement, which collapsed after President Trump’s withdrawal. It needs one in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In light of this, the Climate Week rallies in New York, Boston, Chicago, and now Edinburgh and Glasgow provided a timely opportunity to highlight what scientists say can be done to stop climate catastrophe before it starts. There was also more than one hope-card in Scotland. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was there for a climate rally that organized by Alliance for Climate Change Action but outside the gates of the U.K. Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech that must have been a challenge for the Scottish contingent. She tried to claim credit for the “long term carbon plan” that’s barely a month old, despite its news release prior to her planned appearance in the main stage. She highlighted the government’s water resilience funding announcement, but stopped short of a back-to-business rhetoric on climate. It’s hard to imagine how May’s government could recover any credibility.