The Guardian recently ran a story by reporter Oliver Milman entitled “Planet has just 5% chance of reaching Paris climate goal, study says.” The headline is stark, and says it all: we have only a 5% chance to keep global warming to 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100. The study referenced was published in Nature Climate Change and was entitled “Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely.” What was painfully clear was that “global trends in the economy, emissions and population growth make it extremely unlikely that the planet will remain below the 2C threshold set out in the Paris climate agreement in 2015.”
We here at ClimateYou believe that keeping temperatures from rising by 4°, 6°, 8°, or even more (7.2°F, 10.8°F, 14.4°F) is imperative but achievable. If temperatures did rise that much, it would be catastrophic. Polar ice caps would melt rapidly, causing sea level to rise resulting in widespread coastal flooding, disruption, and displacement; crop failures would sow hunger, starvation, and political unrest; air pollution would mean early deaths for millions, and the oceans will become uninhabitable for many marine species upon which billions of humans depend for survival. Hotter temperatures would mean high heat and humidity levels would exceed human’s natural cooling capacity so millions will die of heat stroke. To avoid these dire consequences we must do quickly what has to be done: price carbon, burn less carbon (drive and fly less), eat less meat (cattle have huge carbon footprints), consume less and recycle more, have fewer kids (they’ll have carbon footprints too, all their lives), stop cutting or burning down forests, and support research to develop ways to remove CO2 from the air (carbon capture and storage – CCS). And while we’re at it, let’s take cloth bags or totes to the grocery so we use fewer plastic bags, and get ourselves a reusable bottle for our water. Finally, let’s resolve not to vote for any climate skeptics or deniers. If we all do what we can as individuals, if we support responsible companies and organizations, and if we elect responsible politicians who enact and enforce responsible policies, we and our children, and theirs, can learn to accommodate ourselves to a warmer but still habitable Earth.