Halloween is just around the corner.
It is a time when we set out to spook and scare one another with ghoulish costumes and frightful masks.
But reading the latest report from the United Nation’s climate change advisory group will have a much more chilling effect.
The study sets out in comprehensive yet shocking scientific detail the reality of our warming climate.
It also outlines what we can do to change the trajectory of our planet, which right now is on a collision course towards disaster.
There is no hiding or denying it anymore. Report after report makes it clear - we are, through our carbon-emitting actions, changing and damaging Earth.
And what’s more, the data is stark in its assertion that the window for limiting that change and mitigating that damage is closing fast.
We have, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), just 12 years left to limit the catastrophe by keeping the average global post-industrial temperature increase to 1.5C.
That’s the lower end of the 1.5-2.0C pledge made by the nations who signed up to the landmark Paris climate accord in 2015.
But don’t get carried away, because even if it is possible to keep the increase to 1.5C (and there’s absolutely no guarantee that it will be) that’s only the lower end of a bad scenario.
All it means is that we might reduce the already significant risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
There’s no doubt that limiting the temperature increase to 1.5C, if we choose to try to, will be massively challenging and expensive.
What we must decide now though, is whether we care enough for the future of our young, and for future generations, to rise to that challenge and pay that price.
In pure financial terms, the cost will be enormous - $2.4tn a year up to 2035 to transform the energy market alone, the report says.
But even more taxing is the change of mindset required from us all, because the researchers make it clear that nothing will alter unless we do.
Tackling grand challenges can be hugely daunting and it is often hard to know where to begin.
There are, however, many simple things we can all do in our everyday lives to both directly and indirectly bring about the necessary change, the study details.
- We can walk or cycle, rather than taking the car on short journeys. We can take public transport for longer journeys.
- We can think more about whether we need to fly the next time we decide to book a flight – would a video or teleconference work instead of meeting face to face, for instance?
- Are you planning to buy or change a car anytime soon? Then consider purchasing an electric vehicle. They are cheaper to run and are less harsh on the Earth.
- We need to think about what we consume too. Reducing meat and dairy consumption will lower emissions, science shows.
- Rather than buying imported produce in the supermarket, buy locally sourced and seasonal food.
- Purchase products that use packaging materials that generate low greenhouse gas emissions during production.
- Thinking about where and how we live can also have an impact. Look at whether it is possible to insulate your home more effectively and remember, there are grants available for doing such work.
- If you are having alterations made to your house or buying or building a new property, insist on use of low-carbon materials and high insulation levels.
- The next time your boiler needs replacing, look at the feasibility of using a non-fossil fuel powered system, like a heat-pump for example – there are grants for that too.
- Turn the thermostat down a notch or two to save money, energy and emissions, because the likelihood is you are overheating your home.
- When you next go to buy an appliance, check out energy rating first and choose a device that uses the least amount of power possible.
- Turn off appliances you aren’t using at the wall because even when not in use they draw residual power.
These are just some of the examples listed in the IPCC report of things you as a citizen can do to make a change and secure a better future for you and your descendants. Many will also save you money.
But something else we can do that costs nothing and requires little effort is to put pressure on those who control the things that we don’t - business people and policymakers.
Businesses will change the way they operate if consumers put pressure on them through their actions and if they sense there is an economic upside to acting or a risk to not acting.
Equally, politicians will quickly alter their policies around energy, agriculture, the environment and more if they sense pressure from the voters.
Tomorrow’s Budget will be a good litmus test of just how serious the current Government is in this regard.
In recent days we’ve been reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the State bank guarantee here and asking whether in hindsight more could have been done to prevent the crash.
Policymakers at the time are rightly blamed for over-stoking the economy and not doing anything to rein in the property market, despite repeated warnings.
Today though we have all the knowledge necessary to see there is an impending environmental and consequential economic risk approaching in the coming decades.
The question we must ask our policymakers (and ourselves) is do we want future generations to look back at us and say we, like those responsible for the financial crisis, ignored the warnings and failed to act on climate change?
Do we want to be blamed for the deaths of countless lives from starvation and wild weather events, the displacement of millions from flooding, the destruction of our oceans from acidification and our land from desertification?
Because the IPCC report lays out the consequences of inaction in black and white and makes it clear how we can best respond to prevent them.
So it is now up to us to decide whether to act.
It is challenging, it is frightening.
But the scientists behind this report make it very clear through their analysis; doing nothing will unleash a potentially irreversible climatic horror show that will put Halloween in the shade.
Comments welcome via Twitter to @willgoodbody