Industry adapts to global warming
For many of us who came of age in the late ’60s and early’ 70s, “For What It’s Worth” by Stephen Stills was one of the anthems of our generation. Performed by the legendary but short-lived Buffalo Springfield, the song perfectly captured the stress and anxiety of these turbulent times.
While those days are long gone, the song’s lyrics continue to capture the anguish of new generations: “Something is happening here, but it’s not exactly clear. Today that “something” includes climate change, as countries around the world grapple with a warming world. The automotive industry (the subject of this issue of ME) is at the forefront of this new paradigm.
As a result, vehicle electrification mandates around the world are transforming the automotive industry. As our two auto articles in this issue explain, automakers are spending billions of dollars to develop electric vehicles (EVs) that will gradually replace internal combustion engines (ICEs). Auto parts suppliers are learning to adapt to this new reality. Vehicle electrification R&D continues to develop entirely new parts and systems for powertrains that may not look like those powered by ICE.
But that’s only part of the climate change puzzle. An August report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), a United Nations body that provides objective scientific information relevant to understanding human-induced climate change, made headlines in around the world by concluding that climate models are being validated, the impacts are occurring at a faster rate than expected, these impacts are global and the likelihood of high impact events, such as the collapse of the ice caps of Antarctica is increasing. Rich Sorkin, CEO of climate analytics provider Jupiter Intelligence, said climate change will have a profound effect on investment planning and operations in the engineering industry, including:
–No part of the globe will be immune to the impacts of climate change.
– Although there are large variations in the degree of confidence in the frequency and severity of impacts at the regional level, confidence levels are increasing.
–Oceans play a key role in the vast majority of heating the climate system. There is a threat to ecosystems and ocean circulation associated with warming oceans. Sorkin notes that these conditions can persist for centuries or more.
–The impacts of urban heat islands will continue to exacerbate periods of extreme heat.
– Sea level rise is “irreversible” and “will remain high for thousands of years”, according to the IPPC report.
So, like the song says, something is happening here and it is becoming more and more clear what that something is. We will be dealing with the effects of climate change for many years to come, and it is time to start working on how we can mitigate these effects, both in business and in society.