How to get by when the world is trying to kill you.
Third time’s the charm! We can’t help but feel extremely blessed experiencing our third biblical rainfall this semester! With any luck those sitting in-person exams will be greeted with a flood at their feet; though knowing Auckland Uni, you’d probably be expected to crawl on top of a table and finish them anyway. Craccum is aware of at least one instance in which a student was forced to come onto campus while hospitalised to sit their exam. It seems there really is no way out.
“Academia is a way of life and a little bit of rain won’t be stopping us” – Uni admin [probably].
While there may be no escaping exams, there definitely is escaping climate change. It may certainly look grim now, but the two of us think we’re doing pretty damn good. So this wellbeing week let’s take some time to destress and accept that maybe we’re not all going to die.
Humans fucked the climate, but that very fact gives us the confidence we can un-fuck it. Take a moment to consider how much effort it took to destroy an entire planet’s ecosystem. We’d wager even the most committed botanophobe would have trouble taking out half of the greenery on campus. We’ve managed to heat up an entire planet without even really trying. If we really put the effort in, we’re confident we could have Auckland underwater by 2050.
Take a look around you and for just a moment appreciate the work society has put into even the most mundane. Take Craccum for instance. The paper and ink we’re printing on has to be collected and refined, the computers we write with have to be constructed and programmed, the writers we exploit have to eat, and that food needs to be harvested. At every stage of this process there are thousands of hands working together, all for one pretty small magazine in one pretty small country.
But climate change isn’t a small problem, some would argue it’s pretty big, existential even. So imagine how much raw human potential can be harnessed to solve it. You may argue that it doesn’t matter when politics gets in the way of progress; after all we don’t work for nothing and Greenpeace probably can’t afford to solve climate change—especially if the French keep up their proud tradition of state sponsored terrorism. So let’s take a closer look.
About half of climate change is caused by commercial and residential energy usage, decarbonise the energy grid and you’ve cut emissions in half just like that. Renewables have continuously gotten better and cheaper and are now beating their fossil fuel counterparts kilowatt for kilowatt. We may not work for free, but we do work for money. For better or worse money motivates like nothing else. Now that fixing the climate can make money, we can expect the grid to decarbonise rapidly as energy companies swap their old expensive coal plants for cheap renewables. There will certainly be bumps along the way, but where there’s a dollar there’s a dozen engineers who’ll fight to invent the most efficient way to get at it.
The other half of emissions are mostly caused by transport. This is a slightly more complicated problem, as we’ve all learned during Covid, not leaving the house is not viable in the long term. However, here too we have a clear path forward: densification of housing—while primarily good for pissing off boomers, also puts people closer to the places they want to be. Expanded public transport allows us to move more people with less effort and electric buses and trains reduce a gargantuan amount of carbon and congestion while they do it. Private cars, commercial trucks, and vans will eventually come to outcompete their more complicated gas cousins.
It’s a lot of work for sure, systems will need to be built, technologies developed, but these changes are already happening, and their pace will only increase as infrastructure goes up and costs come down. Of course none of this means we should be complacent, but don’t allow yourself to fall into climate doomerism. The future is bright, covered in energy efficient LEDs, and hurtling towards us on an electric train.
Revving up the EV,
George & Mairātea