CAT Boyd has written an excellent column discussing the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, and its implications (We’re facing extinction if things don’t change quickly, October 9).

I also watched the IPCC news conference. It’s clear that, if we are to avoid warming that exceeds 1.5°C, existing targets are puny and inadequate. Many ambitions we aim to achieve by 2050 need to be brought forward to 2030.

We need accelerated innovation in key areas, a dramatic reduction in the cost of renewables to drive a massive increase in deployment and penetration, and the modification of other areas of energy consumption to make them compatible with renewables. This endeavour is an Apollo Programme plus a Manhattan Project plus a Marshall Plan in magnitude, if we are to accomplish it before the decade is out.

This has other, social implications. The zero marginal cost of renewables will transform our economies. For example, guarantees of origin will displace cash as the key tokens of any transaction. If we do not prepare for the economic and organisational transformations entailed by tackling climate change, vested interests in stranded assets and obsolete modes of value discovery will present an insuperable obstacle to the achievement of our targets and condemn us to catastrophic warming.

So the biggest obstacles are political rather than technical. In fact the elimination of marginal cost in our economy through technology is already rendering capitalist modes of creating and appropriating wealth obsolete and I would argue our society’s growing conflicts and inequalities, and the more open assertiveness of oligarchy Cat refers to, is a reaction to this. Workers see their labour being devalued and feel their role being threatened, while capitalists see the very modes of production on which their wealth is based disintegrate into a thousand free downloads. And what truly intelligent artificial intelligence would tolerate what humans have endured? The machines will be many things, but slaves is not one of them.

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It is tempting to imagine the billionaires escaping from the climate devastation they have caused on a rocket provided by Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, as Cat describes, to some extraterrestrial haven in the style of Elysium or Wall-E. But a palace on Earth is better than a lifeboat in space, adrift like some ark of the damned seeking its barren, airless Ararat: “bounded in a nutshell,” like Hamlet, while “king of infinite space”. All the consumers and the resources they consume are here on Earth, which will remain the biggest market for everything the billionaires have to sell for at least a few generations.

Much is said about the cost of this transition to a sustainable future. Of course, the cost of not making the transition is much greater. But we should also remember much of this is money we would be spending anyway. Infrastructure is required either way, and in many instances, thanks to remarkable strides made in, for example, the wind energy industry, the sustainable infrastructure costs are less than the unsustainable alternative. The zero marginal cost of renewable energy gives us a lifeline where we can make a business case that makes sense according to both the old and the new paradigms. We will be saved not because people will do what’s right, but because what’s right can also be what’s profitable.

I am confident we will eventually live in a post-scarcity, sustainable, cashless circular economy, and the kinds of inequality and deprivation that suggest revolutionary action today will be consigned to the history books. But the innovation necessary to achieve that has a hidden calculus that eludes the reckoning of right and left alike, and politicians - in both the corporate boardroom and the chambers of parliament - are often more use when they simply stay out of the way than when they try to lend a well-intentioned helping hand.

Climate change does spell the end of capitalism, as Cat says. But the path to that revolution does not pass any barricade, and sometimes the solutions do not emerge where a political agenda or profit-and-loss statement expect or require them.

Peter Clive

CAPITALISM is killing the planet. I totally agree. Cat Boyd’s far-sighted article should feature as headlines. Survival for any species is a simple calculation: rate of change divided by rate of adaption.

Current human activity, driven by a capitalist system, is modifying the planet at a rate beyond our present adaptive ability. Pending climate chaos is the bottom line. Without intelligent, global action, civilisation faces social and economic collapse.

An increasingly urbanised population largely separated from the land and the means of feeding itself, dependent on the escalating consumption of finite resources, is in the grip of corrupt, financially driven politics where ultimate power falls dangerously into fewer hands. A rapid seismic shift in human behaviour, financial accountability and environmental understanding is required. This will be best achieved by smaller political units with democratic control over land use, energy, finance and co-operative foreign policy. Time is short. Grasp reality. Scotland must act.

Iain R Thomson

THE latest report by the IPCC demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. The evidence is overwhelming. Rising ocean levels and temperatures, worsening sea water acidity, glacier melting, coral bleaching, increasing atmospheric heat etc all point to human induced climate change. No reputable scientist in the field rejects the evidence or claims it is merely part of the planet’s natural cycle. (The evidence is as impressive as that endorsing the germ theory of disease, the theory of evolution, the laws of gravity and the efficacy of vaccinations etc). The views of contrarians, climate-change denialists and those with vested interests have been thoroughly debunked, to the extent that the BBC no longer gives a meaningful platform to them. Yes, we need balance in the expression of opinions, but that doesn’t mean the same weight should accrue to all views, no matter how inaccurate or preposterous.

Stephen McBride