The scientific consensus on climate change is clear-cut. To avoid its worst effects, atmospheric CO2 concentrations need to stabilise around or below 450 ppm (parts per million). Though greenhouse gas emissions need to peak before 2020 and then rapidly to decrease in order to meet this benchmark, no substantial steps are being taken to deal with this issue. Each year that goes by without transition to a qualitatively different energy pathway makes the 450 ppm goal less likely to be achieved. Hence, there is a real possibility that the present generation will put the planet on course for uncontrollable climate change and for a temperature rise of 5°C or more. In this case, future generations are likely to regard the present one as selfish at best. Yet it cannot be excluded that what is today called the ‘Western way of life’ will earn our generation a place in history books on a par with mass murderers: people who committed a crime against future generations of humanity. I wrote this book in order to illustrate the gap between the scientific knowledge of climate change and the lack of adequate action on the part of political, economic and environmental decision-makers. To achieve this aim, I have interpreted climate change as a social issue, with particular emphasis on its parallels to capitalism as a powerful social structure in contemporary society.
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