What if

Students protesting at the TU Delft Dies Natalis 2023. Photo: Rob van der Wal

What if the students are right? What if the only sensible solution is cutting all ties with the fossil fuel industry?

The climate crisis is real and we need to do something, we all agree on that.

Some say we can only change the system from the inside, because society will never accept the costs of abrupt changes. But what about the costs for those who are already suffering? What about the inhabitants of Pacific islands that are disappearing under water? Or those who are starving in the Horn of Africa?

Some say the system is complex, in a way that perturbing a component can make the problem even worse. But when will we know what to do well enough? What if, by then, there will be nothing left to save?

And I find myself wondering whether the students are not the only ones with enough ingenuity to see what needs to be done. After all, if a system is too complex to describe, aren’t we often relying on simple models and available observations? And if we look at the past few decades to try and predict the chance that fossil fuel companies will help to solve the climate crisis, how big are the odds?

Riccardo Riva, S4F Delft.