Photo Cred: Alex Garland
On October 1st, The United Nations released a report on climate change that paints a portrait of dire consequences. The current health of our planet is tipping out of balance. Serious policy change is needed to sustain our ecosystem and propagate life as we know it. The report suggests a crisis as early as 2040.
A group of scientists appointed by the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), raise concerns that due to carbon dioxide emissions, the earth’s atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 Celsius) from pre-industrial levels of 1850 by the year 2040 if current emissions continue as projected. Environmentalist experts believe 3.6 degrees is where symptoms of climate change will be critically evident. The report was compiled of findings from 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed 6,000 scientific studies.
Now a few degrees doesn’t seem that serious, but the warmer the atmosphere, the hotter the planet and the longer the heat waves. 2001 to 2010 was the hottest decade on record. Higher temperatures create a score of side effects.
At a 2.7 degree hike, there will be an increase in droughts leading to water shortages. Another major side effect of hotter temperatures are wild fires. Shore lines will also rise due to melting polar ice. A warmer atmosphere can lead to increased insect life, spreading disease. Coral reefs are dying due to increased acidity and warmer oceans. Coral reefs are a major part of the ocean ecosystem providing a significant food source and regulates much of the world ecosystem. The IPCC report indicates mass sections of coral reefs dying off by 2040 if current levels go unchecked.
The IPCC report projects serious ramifications. The report recommends cutting decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by 45% to prevent the 2.7 increase we’re headed for and doomsday of 3.6 degrees. This would require serious tax increases on carbon and coal. Tax increases on carbon mean higher gas prices and electricity. Unfortunately, these types of taxes are wildly politically unpopular. “This report makes it clear: There is no way to mitigate climate change without getting rid of coal,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University and an author of the report.
Let’s face it, more expensive electricity and more expensive gas, means major change to how we operate as a world society. Less dependency on technology, less mobility and less comfort.
The Paris Agreement adopted in 2016 was a massive effort worldwide to help decrease carbon emissions. The Paris Agreement recommends carbon tax hikes and many world powers, America included, are withdrawing from the agreement due to its stance on carbon tax hikes and coal. America is the second largest carbon emissions offender.
The current administration is abhorrent to the evidence of global warming. The president is even promoting the increased burning of coal and threatens to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Other major world powers dependent on coal are withdrawing from the agreement.
With midterm elections coming up in November, one of the most powerful things you can do about this is issue is vote. Vote in candidates that are willing to take the threats posed by carbon emissions seriously. Think about your own use of energy and ways you can conserve. We only have one planet, let’s make sure something is left.