The climate report, simplified

You heard it right: global warming will affect the planet sooner than we thought, and we need to act now to prevent irreversible damage.

Not long ago we were debating whether or not global warming was occurring, then the debate shifted to whether or not humans were causing it, now the argument is about how to pay for it.

the Paris Climate Agreement

In 2015, 196 countries got together to talk about climate change. The members of this United Nations committee then made a pledge to improve the environment, and they adopted the Paris Agreement, or Paris Climate Accord. The long-term goal is to keep the increase in global temperature (from about 1900, or the preindustrial period, to now) to 2° Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the scale most Americans use).

This “red line” of not allowing the temperature of the earth to increase more than 2 degrees will prevent drought, food loss, devastating storms, melting ice, rising sea levels, destruction of coral reefs, loss of oceanic and coastline habitats.

Keep it mind: we’re halfway there. The earth has already increased its temperature 1 degree since the preindustrial period.

Under the Paris Agreement, each country is supposed to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gases and then report on its progress to do their part to stop climate change.

The UN Secretary-General calls the issue “the defining threat of our time”.

but, the committee asked: what would happen to the earth if we had (just) a 1.5 degree change?

While the 2-degree threshold was agreed on, some countries—like those that would be most affected by rising temps—wanted to know what a 1.5-degree change would look like. After all, that change was coming sooner.

So, the committee asked the IPCC or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to research this.

IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an independent, worldwide group that provides an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.

The IPCC doesn’t do original research. The members look at published studies in order to write their conclusions.

The U.S. government was the main force in forming the IPCC which brought scientists together to produce reports that their governments could understand, support and use to create policy.

the recent IPCC report

91 scientists from 42 countries reviewed 6000 studies over about a year and a half and, from these, found that the difference between a 1.5 degree change and a 2 degree change wasn’t all that significant. That, even a 1.5 degree change would create similar outcomes: risks to fisheries, rising sea levels, high impact storms, crop loss, droughts, food shortage, coastal flooding among them. And, the 1.5 degree change will probably occur by 2030-2050.

In order to change the trajectory, they said, we’ll need much more effective and thorough green energy practices.

the solution

The solution may be in carbon pricing. Geek out on it here.

the debate

Are we ready to address climate change? Or will we simply slide into that climate mess as we refuse to change our ways? Let’s take a look at the debate.


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