Here’s How We Can (Mostly) Solve Climate Change By 2050 (Part 1)

Chunka Mui
5 min readOct 15, 2021

Sadly, based on how world leaders are muddling towards COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference later this month in Glasgow, the most likely outcome is a continuation of the long history of insufficient action in the face of ever-stronger scientific evidence of human-driven damage and impending disaster.

We can do better, and a vision and strategy for doing much better is the focus of this series. I’m following the advice of Alan Kay, who observed:

“the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Rather than accepting the most likely forecast based on our collective performance to date, let’s articulate the outcome we want — I call it a future history of climate — and collectively work towards that goal.

The challenges involved in solving climate change are monumental. The U.S. federal government’s recent, self-described “authoritative assessment of the science of climate change,” the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), said that, globally, we must go from the roughly 51 billion tons of carbon emissions a year we’re emitting today to effectively zero emissions by 2050.

That means, to avoid climate disaster, we need to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 in all five types of human activities that contribute most of our carbon emissions: how we plug in, how we make things, how we grow things, how we get around, and how we keep warm and cool. In other words, we must make fundamental changes in every aspect of our lives and how society operates.

If we don’t, the consequences will be disastrous. We’ll face worsening conditions in our lifetimes. And, we’ll condemn our our kids and their kids to live with ever more dangerous sea levels, extreme flooding and storms, heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, devastated farming, fishing and other food production, flooded cities and infrastructure, mass migration, resource wars, and perhaps worse.

Quite simply, it would be crazy if we didn’t significantly slow global warming and mitigate the worst effects of climate change by 2050. It would be especially so given…

Chunka Mui

Futurist and Innovation Advisor. I try to carry out Alan Kay’s exhortation that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”