Nov 1, 2018
by Tish Levee
The recent report from the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is ominous. It essentially says we have just 12 years to get our act together and really lower our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if we want to have any kind of a life on this planet. Whew! The goal of keeping global warming to 2º Celsius (that’s 3.6º Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, set in Paris in 2015, was one nearly everyone agreed wasn’t sufficient, but it was the goal they could agree on.
Now the 100 scientists on the IPCC say that even the goal adopted as an aspiration in Paris—1.5ºC (2.7 ºF)— is too high (we’ve already reached 1 to 1.2ºC above pre-industrial levels). Go to http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/ for the full report.
To stay at or below the 1.5º goal, the report makes it clear that we must take swift action—right now—AND it must go deep, involving all sectors—energy, agriculture, and transportation. It can’t be overstressed how urgent this is.
Currently, despite all the pledges made in Paris and how quickly renewable energy’s being adopted, we’re on course for warming 3ºC ( 5.4ºF) above pre-industrial levels. “Catastrophic” doesn’t begin to say how bad it will be.
It doesn’t help that the US — with less than 5% of the world’s population but almost 15% of global GHG emissions — has given notice that it will back out of the Paris accords in 2020. Meanwhile, Brazil, the 7th largest producer of GHC emissions, will probably elect a new president who will also withdraw from them. For 20 years, Brazil’s been the largest country leading in addressing climate change. Since 2004 Brazil’s made dramatic reductions in GHG emissions, but the almost certain election of Jair Bolsonaro threatens all that.
With these two countries opting out of the Paris accords, a recent op-ed in the New York Times says, “Solving climate is going to be harder, and more improbable, than winning World War II, achieving civil rights, defeating bacterial infection, and sending a man to the moon, all together.” But we can do it! As the Times says “we’re perfect for the job.” If there’s one thing humans are really good at “it’s taking on the impossible.” In the past we’ve often faced terrible seemingly unconquerable challenges — the Black Death killed at least one-third of Europe’s population in the Middle Ages; 50 million died in World War II. The 1.5º goal is technically possible. Do we have the political will to make it happen?
To do so, we have to keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground—NOW! Delaying doing so is simply denial. We’re all so dependent on using fossil fuels that it’s going to take a radical shift to do this. We’ve started here in California, and especially in Sonoma County. Sonoma Clean Power’s energy mix is 87% fossil free; Evergreen customers have 100% renewable energy.
The editor of your local paper; local businesses, asking them to commit to lowering their business’ climate impacts; members of Congress, urging immediate action on climate change; to all candidates—at any level—asking them to sign the Candidates Pledge for Climate Action, https://tinyurl.com/y8awjuwo.
I can’t stress enough that you NEED to vote. The fossil fuel companies are counting on you to NOT vote—remember only 20% of people stating their commitment to the environment voted in the 2014 mid-terms.
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