The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report underscores that if we stay on our current course, in terms of carbon and methane emissions, we will blow past the “defense line” of a 1.5 C (2.7 F) temperature increase with disastrous impacts in the form of weird weather, droughts, floods, and challenges to our food system.

We now know from investigative reporting that the largest fossil fuel companies, Shell and ExxonMobil, have known for decades about the dangerous repercussions of burning coal, gas, and oil. Yet for almost half a century, the industry deployed its considerable assets and power to deny climate change, fund disinformation and doubt about the science, lobby to block energy-efficient alternatives, and delay timely responses. And the industry’s reckless pursuits continue unabated in the face of surging global heat waves.

As you read this, the leaders of a couple dozen global energy corporations are making conscious decisions to build new infrastructure to extract and burn billions of tons of carbon and methane that is presently sequestered. A Guardian expose identified 195 carbon-bomb projects; each will burn a billion tons of carbon over its lifetime.

The largest banks and financial institutions in the world are providing the investment capital to enable this extraction. They are all betting against humanity, counting on the failure of governments and social movements to stop their activities. The U.S. government is gridlocked between one political party that is entirely subservient to the carbon barons—and another party still mostly captured by energy interests.

Meanwhile, among those who are adamant that major changes are necessary, the debate about what to do reels between magical thinking and defeatism. Proposals range from untested and risky techno-fixes to hyperlocal civic engagement around carbon drawdown and regenerative agriculture. Others have already started grieving the losses they see coming or have withdrawn from civic engagement, believing our political system incapable of forming an adequate response.

However, there is still time to secure a livable future, or at least a “Better Catastrophe,” as humorist Andrew Boyd describes it. We can still shift the trajectory away from the worst-case scenarios if we act decisively in the next seven years, dramatically reducing fossil fuel consumption and implementing a wide range of mitigation and adaption strategies. But the first step is to stop the pipeline, if you will, of new fossil fuel infrastructure for extraction and burning.

The fossil fuel industry and its leaders will not voluntarily make these changes. The tobacco industry was the last to admit that smoking was bad for our health. Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal will extract until they are stopped by external pressure. And if they are not stopped, they will destroy the world.

Read the full article about climate activism by Chuck Collins at YES! Magazine.