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UN Climate Change Report Hopeful

I have written several posts opining that human-caused stresses on Earth’s air, water and land had committed the planet to global warming that threatens civilization as we know it. Man’s greenhouse gases had made dangerous global warming and other climate changes inevitable. The most reasonable life strategy is to enjoy what we have for as long as we have it, and to give some extra thought to adapting safely to a less supportive natural world.

Happily the gold standard group on climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, disagrees with me. The IPCC report released today predicts that global warming can be held to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F.) if the whole world soon takes some universal and hard steps to slow and then reverse greenhouse gas emissions. It repeats that climate scientists agree that if average world temperatures go past 1.5 degrees C. above preindustrial levels, bad and unpredictable consequences for mankind will likely occur.

The catch is that the world collectively needs to perform “unprecedented” acts of cooperation and restraints on consumption within the next decade. The IPCC report outlines several “pathways” to keeping global warming within the IPCC’s tolerable ceiling of a 1.5 C rise. All of them are difficult, such as cutting present world greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

Very little on the world political horizon suggests even the beginning of commitments to keep greenhouse gases within the IPCC’s tolerable limits. China now generates over 10 percent of global CO2 and maintains its commitment to high economic growth despite environmental costs. The United States kicks out 5 percent of the total, and the Trump EPA is reversing the environmental protection measures Obama constructed.

The IPCC gives us the best, most current, picture of what Homo sapiens is doing to itself. Preserving the world as we have enjoyed it will require Churchill’s heroic “blood, sweat and tears” efforts, in concert, and some luck.


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