While the world has its eyes on war conflicts or slaps at awards shows, the planet is one step away from becoming extremely dangerous, all because of human irresponsibility.
As explained by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a new report, humanity must agree to make “rapid, deep and immediate” cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to avoid an irreversible increase in the planet’s temperature.
As reported by the BBC, after a controversial approval session in which scientists and government officials went through the report line by line, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its guidance on what the world can do to avoid this dark future.
It is time to stop burning our planet & start investing in the abundant renewable energy all around us.
New @IPCC_CH report sets out viable, financially sound options in every sector that can keep the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5° alive. https://t.co/xzccxqeTT4
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 4, 2022
The goal is to keep the planet’s temperature at 1.5C or less this century and avoid increasing droughts and the destruction of biodiversity. Failure to do so would cause our world to be hit by unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, and widespread shortages, said an irate UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The bad news is that even if all the carbon reduction policies that governments have put in place by the end of 2020 were fully implemented, the world will still warm by 3.2C this century.
So what can be done?
The latest IPCC report shows a possible path that Guterres called a “feasible and financially sound manner.”
This will involve massive changes in energy production, industry, transportation, consumption patterns, and how we treat nature.
According to the IPCC, to stay below 1.5°C, carbon emissions from everything we make, buy, use or eat must peak in 2025 and fall rapidly thereafter to zero by the middle of this century.
“I think the report tells us that we’ve reached the now-or-never point of limiting warming to 1.5C,” said IPCC lead author Heleen De Coninck, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation and Climate Change at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
Speaking to BBC News, she said: “We have to peak our greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 and after that, reduce them very rapidly.
“And we will have to do negative emissions or carbon dioxide removal in the second half of the century, shortly after 2050, in order to limit warming to 1.5C.”
Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals.
But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.
Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 5, 2022
For their part, activists have heeded the call of the United Nations and have put themselves at the forefront of the fight to implement this change as soon as possible.
“It’s game over for the fossil fuels that are fuelling both wars and climate chaos,” said Kaisa Kosonen from Greenpeace, an observer at the IPCC approval session, to the BBC.
“There’s no room for any new fossil fuel developments, and the coal and gas plants we already have need to close early.”
Just days after the release of the new IPCC report, activists like scientist Peter Kalmus were arrested for tying themselves to the JP Morgan Chase building entrance in downtown Los Angeles. It was a sign of the international campaign organized by a group of concerned scientists called Scientist Rebellion, involving more than 1,200 scientists from 26 countries and supported by other local climate groups.
In an opinion column for The Guardian, Kalmus explained that “it’s now or never” to stop climate change that could “threaten civilization as we know it.”
“Earth breakdown is much worse than most people realize. The science indicates that as fossil fuels continue to heat our planet, everything we love is at risk,” Kalmus wrote. “For me, one of the most horrific aspects of all this is the juxtaposition of present-day and near-future climate disasters with the “business as usual” occurring all around me. It’s so surreal that I often find myself reviewing the science to make sure it’s really happening, a sort of scientific nightmare arm-pinch. Yes, it’s really happening.”
And the picture is darker than many want to believe. It’s not just about natural disasters and droughts that will wipe out much of our food supply. It’s also about the failure to remove CO2 from the air and the health risks to our communities.
As the IPCC report concluded, we will need more than new forests to prevent warming from exceeding the dangerous 1.5°C threshold.
Keeping temperatures down will require machines that remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere. Worse, it will require the world to finally open its eyes and join the collective effort to save our own skins.