If we still think about saving our planet, this is the last wake-up call we might get. Global warming has been a fact for decades, and even politicians are starting to admit, even though their bankers, investors and insurance dealers still deny it.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who recently won a Nobel Prize issued the gut-wrenching Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which, luckily for all of us, has been approved by governments, in Incheon, South Korea.
Global Warming Effects Summary
Of course, not all of us are scientists and reading the 728-page document would more likely put us to sleep pretty fast, but there is the need to understand some of the most important effects of the climate change we are facing as we speak:
- Sea levels will rise with more than 30cm
- We will kiss coral reefs goodbye, as they will no longer exist
- Polar Ice-Caps will melt at higher rates
- Ocean water salinity will decrease, creating a prone environment for Hurricanes like Katrina, Harvey or Charlotte more often.
- Water supplies will be affected by drought
- Wildfires incidence will increase
Acting Tomorrow Might Be Too Late
The biggest concern of the 91 authors who contributed to the study is that keeping the global temperature increase under 2°C will not be enough, as we thought of up until recently. Exceeding 1.5°C is what takes us to some irreversible processes that will, sooner rather than later, make our planet uninhabitable.
At the current industrial and agricultural development rate, we are to reach this 1.5°C threshold in 2030, having only 11 years to correct our consumeristic behavior.
Steps to Reach the 1.5°C Goal
Even though the authors of “Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty” (The Climate Report’s full name) cannot make any promises that the advice they are offering in their creation will deliver the desired outcome, it is our moral and ethical duty to do our best.
- CO2 global emissions to be reduced by 45% by 2030.
- Reaching a milestone of 85% of global electricity to come from renewable sources.
- Coal consumption to be reduced to almost 0.
- Energy crops need to reach up to 7 million sq km (a bit less than Australia)
- Global net zero emissions by 2050
Climate Change Fesability
The big question on everyone’s lips is: “Ok, we do this, but will it work?”
The dreadful answer is that we do not know. Even Dr. Debra Roberts, co=chair of the IPCC said:
It is feasible if we all put our best foot forward, and that’s a key message of this report. No-one can opt out anymore […]
We all have to fundamentally change the way we live our lives; we can’t remain remote from the problem anymore.
The report is very clear, this can be done, but it will require massive changes, socially and politically and accompanied by technological development.
Keeping it below the 1.5°C Goal Potential Outcome
However, if we are talking about a 1.5°C increase over a century, why should we even bother, we will not live that long to see these dreadful changes. However, our children will be. And, as Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University’s Climate Scientist puts it:
The outcome will determine whether my grandchildren would get to see beautiful coral reefs
Possible and probable results are not only satisfying but also promising for us to keep a “these-days similar environment” for generations to come:
- The number of people suffering from lack of water would reduce to half.
- Fewer illnesses and deaths from infectious diseases, heat, and smog.
- Sea levels rise would be 10cm lower.
- Majority of mammals and plants will not lose their habitats.
- Heat waves, droughts, and downpours would reduce significantly.
- The West Antarctic ice sheet will not reach the irreversible melting point.
- We will save coral reefs.
Can I Stop Global Warming?
No, you cannot. But change comes from little things and we are 7 billion of little things on this great planet. Dr. Debra Roberts statement is the best answer we have, right now, for this question:
This is not about remote science; it is about where we live and work, and it gives us a cue on how we might be able to contribute to that massive change […]
You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use.
We can choose the way we move in cities and if we don’t have access to public transport – make sure you are electing politicians who provide options around public transport.
And don’t throw that paper into the metal bin!