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Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. It is the race of our lives.

In 2100, the Earth is going to be around 2.5ºC warmer than it used to be.

We are already seeing the effects of climate change today in floods, fires, and storms. And the temperature keeps rising. By the end of the century, up to a quarter of the world is likely to be uninhabitable.

Photo of an iceberg in Antartica.

The Pine Island Glacier recently spawned an iceberg over 300 sq km.

Global map of temperatures by 2070.

This world map of average temperatures highlights in black those areas that are too hot for human habitation today, and in black shading those areas that will be too hot for humans by the year 2070. Such areas will include some of the most populated regions of the globe. Source: "Future of the human climate niche", Xu et al, PNAS 2020.

New kinds of breakthroughs will make the remaking of our economy easier. We will be able to stop climate change. We might even be able to reverse it. The problem is time. Can we do it fast enough to avoid the worst of the existential threat?

Humanity’s impact on the planet is out of control. We are draining the planet’s underground water supplies, we are denuding soils and dumping nutrients into the ocean, and we are wiping out other species, all at rates unprecedented for millions of years. We already know how to feed and power ourselves sustainably – but we are moving far too slowly.

Aerial view of coal mine

Open-pit coal mining is one of the most ecologically harmful activities of the industrial world.

We’ve known for decades that we were on this trajectory. It’s time to wake up.

But there’s hope – more than before. People are more concerned about climate than ever; now, for the first time, we have the technology to back that hope up. Technology exists to break free of fossil fuels and build a sustainable society. The last two decades have seen tremendous advances in solar power, in wind power, in batteries and electrification. Now they are the logical economic choices.

Solar energy, wind energy, and battery storage prices have declined explosively since 2010.

Beating climate change will require the best of humanity's talent, leadership, and innovation. To save the planet – to save ourselves – we need everyone's help.

© The Grantham Foundation 2021

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