“What people wanted to hear was that an agreement had been reached on climate change that would save the world while leaving lifestyles and aspirations unchanged,” the scientists wrote. “The solution it proposes is not to agree on an urgent mechanism to ensure immediate cuts in emissions, but to kick the can down the road.”

The Paris climate talks revealed, once again, the vast gap between what is politically feasible and what is ecologically necessary. To drastically reduce CO2 pollution we would have to eliminate wasteful industries, drastically limit consumption, reduce air and car travel to the minimum, and severely restrict meat-eating globally. If we want to save the Earth, in other words, billions of us have to change our lifestyles. Nobody wants to think about this - and it is political suicide to propose it because it goes against the logic of a global economy based on incessant growth. But our survival requires system change, not reform.

 The fastest way for a change to occur would be for the wealthy elite - or at least a subset of them - to take responsibility for humanity’s current predicament, overcome the hypnotism of privilege, and use their capital to engineer a rapid turn-around. I know that sounds unlikely. Another option would be some form of revolution or global overturning of the current system, substituting new institutions for the dysfunctional ones we have now. I realize that sounds pretty difficult also.

It is much easier to build a lifeboat while you are still on dry land than to try to do it when you are caught in the middle of a never-ending super-storm. We are getting many foreshadowings of what is to come. But we keep ignoring them.