I’m a very optimistic person, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t worry about this on a regular basis.
If you’re treating someone for a burn, the first thing that you should do is stop the burning process. If you can’t stop the source of the burn, then the treatments applied will be mostly ineffective. It’s the same logic with climate change. If we can’t stop the source of the problem, then our treatments will be ineffective. We will build sea walls that will still eventually be over run by rising water. We spend ever more resources fighting worse, and worse forest fires. We will have to build larger and large irrigation and water projects to keep farms irrigated. We will have to abandon populous sections of the planet.
None of those options are stable solutions. They are also incredibly expensive prospects. The simple economics of it is that slowing the rate of damage will have the best return on investment. And the fear is that the worst case scenario, if we choose to do absolutely nothing, could collapse incredibly vital ecological functions (the collapse of currents, total loss of sea ice, large scale drought) from which there is no mitigation technically possible.
I agree that this far in, we definitely have to think about mitigation and control of the problem. But we haven’t hit the worst of it yet. Our best investment is in slowing the release of GHG emissions and we have quite a few promising leads to do that. A small investment today, is a huge investment in the future.
My grief is not that the climate is going downhill. I’m sad because the people that are in a position of power enough to make any real meaningful changes towards making the environment better don’t seem to care at all.