Cases for Optimism and Worry in the Face of Climate Change

For anyone who takes notice of the climate change debate, a mass of often-contradictory information comes flooding into our lives. Some of it prompts great alarm. The Great Barrier Reef is suffering severe bleaching. Wild fires are consuming Alberta. Last year was the warmest on record, and 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001.

Yet there are also some positive signs that the world is at last getting serious about the threat. Global investment in renewable energy last year exceeded investment in fossil energy for the first time. Coal use in the United States is falling rapidly. China has stopped approving new coalmines. And the Paris Agreement of December 2015 was hailed as a breakthrough, a turning point in the battle.

So what are we to think; or rather, what are we to feel? Let me try to give an assessment of the factors and forces that have been buffeting me.

Richard Fraser