Concerns about the environment are generally approached in one of two ways: one being about environmental catastrophes to come; the other, solutions to avoid them. It is never a good idea to live your life based on simple predictions, but all signs are pointing to the next decade being characterized by a dual trend. On one hand, an increased decline of the biosphere and a plethora of catastrophic climatic events, and, on the other, an accelerated deployment of technological and socioeconomic solutions to these environmental problems. Like the two poles of a magnet, the problem stands alongside the solution.
With that said, here is a news bulletin, live from the future.
- A historic agreement: the Canadian constitution has been amended to recognize the right to live in a clean environment, and guarantees the same right for future generations.
- 10 years after the historic 2015 conference in Paris on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions have reduced 10 percent worldwide after having reached their peak in 2020. The heads of state from 120 countries once again met in Beijing.
- There has been an unprecedented momentum of solidarity towards the victims of the most powerful typhoon ever to make landfall in the Philippines. 150,000 people are still missing.
- Satellite pictures from the European Space Agency reveal an arctic ocean free of ice for the first time in over one million years.
- The city of Paris is launching a reconversion program to transform gas stations into community gardens.
- A collective solution of legal action taken by the "First Nations" against Canada and the province of Alberta leads to the payment of 10 billion in reparations for the damages caused to indigenous ancestral territories by the exploitation of its oil-soaked sands.
- Economic growth remains sluggish as the price of crude materials are becoming more and more costly to extract. Several economists confirm that growth rates above 2 percent are no longer conceivable and are calling for a better redistribution of wealth.
- The Prime Minister of Canada, Severn Suzuki, has announced a 50 billion plan to provide the country with a network of high-speed trains.
- In Quebec, Prime Minister Laure Waridel has announced that the Quebecois commercial deficit is in a strong decline following the implementation of the plan to reduce gas consumption. Moreover, public investment in collective transport, supported by the Deposits Fund, has re-launched the economy and job market in Quebec and has created a new industrial group in the sector of electric transportation.
- Developers now want to convert the Energy East oil pipeline, which was never put to use, into a giant aqueduct to carry fresh water from Quebec to the Prairies following their fifth consecutive year of drought.
- Oil stocks are down 1.2 percent this week, having lost 40 percent of their value since their peak in 2020. Investors have largely turned their backs on them following the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate and the subsequent collapse of the carbon bubble in the financial markets.
- The revenue from six of the ten largest American electric companies have continued their decline in the fourth quarter as more and more Americans are starting to opt for solar energy production in their own places of residence and are disconnecting themselves from the electric grid. To date, five million American homes have made this switch.
- One ton of CO2 was trading today at 100 on the New York market, which is up three dollars.
- Action taken by the company Tesla is up 10 percent following the launch of the Powerwall 4, whose battery is the highest performing to date, and is supplying power to private residences.
- For the first time, the amount of travel by way of car-sharing has surpassed the amount of travel by individual automobiles in New York, and the amount of travel by car-sharing is on the rise in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.
- Apple, Starbucks and Tesla have announced the construction of new electric vehicle charging stations, which will also include a food stop and digital entertainment.
- Following the simultaneous droughts in Ukraine, California and in the Canadian Prairies, and the decline of worldwide farm production, the price of food has risen 40 percent in three years.
- Reacting to the price spike of food, citizens of Montreal are forming a new cooperative that will cultivate 250 acres of farmland to supply a network of local markets in full swing.
- The 50th greenhouse on the roof of a commercial building has been opened by Lufa Farms, pioneers of urban agriculture in Montreal.
- With the drought that affected California, France and Spain in 2024, the price of wine has risen considerably in the world market.
- The heat wave that has been hitting Western Europe for the last ten days is coming to an end. Temperatures reached a record high of 113 degrees Fahrenheit in Spain and in the south of France.
- The heavy rains that poured down on Montreal last weekend have left 4,000 residences flooded. The Décarle highway had to be shut down again.
- Meanwhile, the forest fires are still out of control in the north of Ontario and Quebec, where the drought and strong winds are thwarting the work of fire intervention teams.
What can we conclude from this fictitious news report? First of all, we learn that it is no longer possible for us to avoid an inescapable decline of the biosphere, and that our civilization must prepare itself to face major transformations, both environmental and economic. However, it is also clear that phasing out combustible fossil fuels is now equally inevitable, and that it will begin in 2025 at the latest. This change will alter our relationship with energy and will generate a large number of new innovations.
It will be possible, in a certain way, to prepare ourselves for a sharp decline of resources in the biosphere and a climate spinning out of control. However, it is necessary to start the shift towards reasonable and viable resource energy usage now. This may be the only chance we have to see our species prosper and survive the present century and into the next. The world of 2025 will be simultaneously one of strong ecological transition, and one of potential environmental catastrophe. It remains to be seen which of these two will happen first, and how it will further shape our future. In this race against the clock, and against ourselves, our choices over the next several years will be determining factors.
This piece was originally published on HuffPost Québec and was translated into English.