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The climate change debate so far | 6 questions we need to ask

Climate Change. It's big. In order to make sense of current debates, we trekked the internet and assembled the most interesting perspectives of the last years around 6 central questions, for your easy reading pleasure:

melting ice
A little disclaimer: We've tried to include opposing perspectives on several tricky questions. It follows that the opinions expressed in the articles we mention don't necessarily represent the opinion of Founders Pledge.

1. Will the free market solve climate change?

Bill Gates doesn't think so. Neither does the Pope.

And while the idea that the invisible hand will magically step in and fix everything may be far fetched, there are certainly a few right-of-centre pragmatists who propose some version of a market led solution. Though usually it includes a little nudge, for example in the form of a carbon tax.

Others deny the idea that climate change is merely a market failure that can be rectified, and see climate change as a mortal battle between capitalism and the planet. It's often said that the free market is what got us into this environmental mess, so there's no way it'll get us out of it.

This touches on one of the big dilemmas preventing climate action: many deny the science behind climate change because the prevalent solutions to it are in opposition with their world view and politics.

This story demonstrates how that didn't always use to be the case.

2. Will technology solve climate change?

As a tech community, we do encounter quite a few so-called tech-utopians, but should we really hedge our bets on undeveloped technologies?

However, a Hollywood action movie fantasy of a last minute break-through that will save the planet may be ill advised.

On the other hand, Elon Musk has infinite belief in the power of innovation, and he's not alone.


3. Will the consumer solve climate change?

The defence of the big emissions bad-guys (the Exxons and the Chevrons, the oil companies and the coal plants), is that they are merely satisfying demand.

But given the outsized lobbying power of big businesses, is it fair to to champion a pure consumer-driven solution to climate change? Or has Neoliberalism conned us into fighting climate change as individuals instead of collectively taking on corporate power? And is obsessively twiddling with lightbulbs and recycleable pens mainly a distraction used to exonerate those with real power?

4. What is our current trajectory?

It just so happened that we've enlisted one our researchers- the very funny John Halstead- and custom made an annotated timeline for you guys. It aggregates some of the most important predictions for the coming century.

5. What actually motivates climate action?

climate change march
When New York magazine published this grim write-up of worst-case scenarios in climate research (which soon became the most read article in the magazine's history,) it sparked a wide range of intense emotions; from horror, to outrage, to smugness.

Critics accuse it of playing into a gratuitous doomsday narrative which leaves people feeling paralysed and powerless.

Supporters retort that climate scientists have so far proven to err on the conservative side, (biased partly by fear of the kind of critique the aforementioned article garnered), leading to overly optimistic predictions.

As such, they argue that it’s important to remind the public that what we think of as the worst case scenario is often actually the median, and the real worst case is much worse. Awareness is the first step towards action etc etc.

6. Are natural disasters a legitimate talking point in the climate change debate?

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many (including politicians) were quick to call it insensitive to politicise a tragedy still unfolding by making it about climate change.

Activist and author Naomi Klein is among those who couldn't agree less. She argues that staying silent about the ties between Harvey and climate change is an equally political choice.

Some question whether the evidence linking hurricanes and climate change even holds up. But it seems pretty certain that whether or not it directly causes them, climate change does make them much, much worse.

So, can philanthropy help?

Long winded thought pieces aside; we want to bring our community some tangible, digestible and actionable insights into the situation.

Which is why, for this season's Founders Pledge event in London, we’re bringing together:

They will speak to entrepreneurs and investors to explore their best points of leverage in the fight for a sustainable future.

All their advice on how to leverage philanthropy to make a change will be available on our Blog, YouTube channel and LinkedIn in October.

Did we miss anything?

We're only human. Add links, thoughts and anything else we may have missed in the comments below!

Originally published on 19 September 2017



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