User Experience of Apocalypse | by Gavrilo Jade | November, 2022

“Dinosaur Torment”, produced quickly by MidJourney

Last month, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released its 13th annual edition of the Emissions Gap Report, tracking the lack of progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which found that “the international community falls far short of the Paris targets”. happening, in which there is no reliable route to 1.5°C in place.”

The report, collecting and synthesizing all the best research from the past year into its hundred-odd pages, employs dozens upon hundreds of citations on dozens of papers, studies, and articles produced in an effort to convey the evidence in favor of the report’s subtitles. . “The Rapid Transformation of Societies.”

Emission gap reports, like the Assessment Cycle Synthesis Report from the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), are the gold standard for climate reports to be released from the United Nations. The work of both UNEP and IPCC brings together bright minds to illustrate how we have come to terms with the current climate emergency and what we need to do to get out of it.

The problem is that no one can understand what they are saying.

We are already living in an era of climate change. global temperature average. with reaching C More than the 19th century, current international efforts – formalized by the Paris Climate Agreement – ​​have devoted themselves to limiting 2. c With a pinky promise to consider policies that limit heating to 1.5. will limit C.

1… 1.5… 2… These numbers may seem benign at face value and the difference between them is negligible, but they hide enormous ecological, economic and social rifts within them. On a one-degree increase, we’ve seen glaciers melt and sea levels rise at a rate higher than scientists had predicted, while heat waves ripped off India, Iran, and the Pacific Northwest and closed forests. The fire had gotten out of control.

1.5. of our most ambitious climate policy You will see that these problems have increased manifold.

Emission differences in a (if not so) simple chart (source: UNEP)
Emission differences in a (if not so) simple chart (source: UNEP)

A more cautious target of two degrees outlined in the Paris Agreement would exacerbate these current issues, while facing even more difficult challenges such as the sinking of dozens of island nations and the displacement of hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Given these bets, one might expect the news to cost us 1.5. will show within striking distance of the ambitious “Safe” level of of heating. Or, if it isn’t, at least comfortably 1.5 and 2. in the middle of heating. Anything to show that it is being taken seriously.

Instead, the latest report shows that, based on current policies (and pledges for further policies), we are on track to achieve an increase of 2.8 °C by 2100 – a level of warming that could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Will make most of the planet uninhabitable, if not thousands of years to come.

And this nearly three-degree increase assumes the implementation of a range of policies in the world’s major economies that are still largely hypothetical.

In other words, Our most optimistic extrapolation of current emissions policy results in climate destruction,

That’s bad news. This is mostly bad news. What is good news remains largely comparable, as does this year’s report showing us the updated policy commitments going forward to bring us. little Two degrees closer to the target (and, apparently, by extension, one and a half degrees). But it should also qualify, as emissions rose in 2021 after a fall in 2020 (itself the product of a global pandemic causing massive shutdowns of the international economy at a time).

Why is this not being discussed more?

It doesn’t seem to make up for lack of trust. While attitudes toward climate change remain volatile and there is confusion and public underestimation about a complex issue, public understanding and acceptance of the issue is greater than ever.

It seems, to a lot of people, that people have not understood with the necessary urgency to explain what is needed at this point to avoid the worst. Just before the most recent United States elections, less than one in five polled voters chose climate change as the top three most important issues.

If humanity is facing extinction (or at least business as usualSo why aren’t more people acting like this?

The cynical answer is that people simply cannot be motivated enough to mitigate the effects of climate change, especially when that mitigation will require enormous physical sacrifices and how we structure our electric grids, where We can spend our free time permanently. ,

But I am not a cynical person, and I would urge any of my readers to approach the giant rock of climate cynicism with caution. A collective, sustained response to trauma and conflict has reshaped the world many times before, and can do so again if necessary.

And right now, that’s exactly what we need: a noble orientation that identifies an existential threat and treats it as such.

To accomplish this great restructuring we will not only need scientists who research climate change, but we also need a political body to hold these policy makers accountable for taking their research seriously. Is. Artists will be needed to create great, captivating works that mourn our climate loss and inspire hope in our climate future. Labor organizations must organize workers in all sectors of the economy – particularly those extracting fossil fuels – to demand greater revenue sharing from oil and gas profits, including retraining for workers and reparations for those whose homes And the atmosphere is irreversibly tarnished by these extractors. Practice. Banks and brokerages around the world are required to completely disinvest from anyone who makes a profit from burning carbon in the air in the form of schools, pension funds and any other means of finance. Debts must be forgiven in order to afford opportunities for developing countries and marginalized populations to escape poverty and build a more sustainable future.

Designers also have a role to play in this great reinvention.

The changes needed to mitigate further climate change and adapt to its current manifestations mean that new solutions will have to be constantly designed at an unprecedented pace. UX designers must identify ways in which human-centered design can be expanded into an environmentally conscious design framework that understands the lifecycle of its solutions and differentiates itself from the obsession with superficial forms of design that Locks people in a feedback cycle. With the aim of captivating the audience for advertisements.

It also requires designers to consider how to communicate the science of climate change to people in a way that inspires action, rather than inspires nostalgia.

People need a purpose and a way to refer to successes and failures to work within this context, something that UX designers are asked to do with every product or service launch.

What might those objectives look like? How can we communicate to them more effectively?

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