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Not a Decade to Spare for Climate Action

Alfred Nobel could not possibly have imagined the scope or scale of today’s global challenges when he introduced his eponymous prize nearly 125 years ago. Yet, by establishing a platform for identifying those who are doing the most for humanity, he may have created a powerful means of confronting them.

POTSDAM – The last decade was the hottest on record, according to independent data analyses from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The reality of climate change is sinking in, with millions now feeling its effects – from rising sea levels and disappearing coastlines to more frequent extreme weather such as droughts, floods, and wildfires. Indeed, given current atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and the projected trajectory of future emissions, more record temperatures are inevitable.

Scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades that climate change is real and getting worse. As the adverse effects of unabated emissions keep mounting, the alarm is becoming deafening. But at the same time, other current realities cannot be ignored. The imminent threat posed by climate change is coinciding with shifts in longstanding geopolitical alliances; continuing economic inequality, which is fueling social unrest in many countries; and the advent of artificial intelligence, big data, and a constant stream of new technologies, which are transforming the way we live and work – with both positive and negative consequences.

The challenges are daunting. But it is not too late to chart a different course for our planet and its inhabitants. We need to put the world’s best minds to work now on finding solutions that will not only help us mitigate and adapt to climate change, but will also reduce inequality, lift people out of poverty, and build trust in international cooperation. We must find ways to harness the best that technology has to offer while anticipating and mitigating potential harms. And we can ill afford another decade of inaction – the consequences are far too high.

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