Home > Climate breakdown, Global warming > Yet more evidence of the need for aggressive, immediate action to curb carbon emissions

Yet more evidence of the need for aggressive, immediate action to curb carbon emissions

My post yesterday (see below) discussed the increasing likelihood that, given the current rate of increasing carbon emissions, we are going to shoot past the 2 degree global warming threshold. Today, I came across this very interesting/frightening article by David Roberts of Grist. Based on the research of Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change who was, until recently, director of the U.K.’s leading climate research institution, the Tyndall Energy Program, Roberts explains why the 2 degree target is likely already out of reach and what this means for our planetary future. This is a must-read. Here is an excerpt:

“This, then, is the brutal logic of climate change: With immediate, concerted action at global scale, we have a slim chance to halt climate change at the extremely dangerous level of 2 degrees C. If we delay even a decade — waiting for better technology or a more amenable political situation or whatever — we will have no chance.”

And if we sail past 2 degrees warming this century? In Roberts words…

…if 2 degrees C is extremely dangerous, 4 degrees C is absolutely catastrophic. In fact, according to the latest science, says Anderson, “a 4 degrees C future is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable.

“Based on current scientific understanding, positive climate feedbacks — the ones that accelerate the process — considerably outweigh negative feedbacks. At some level of temperature rise, some of those positive feedbacks are likely to become self-reinforcing and effectively unstoppable, no matter how much emissions are cut. These are the “tipping points” you hear so much about.

“That makes the notion of “adapting” to 4 degrees C a bit of a farce. A climate in which conditions are changing that fast just isn’t suitable for stable human civilization (or for the continued existence of a majority of the planet’s species).

Oh, and by the way: According to the International Energy Agency, we’re currently on course for 6 degrees C [10.8 degrees F]. That is, beyond any reasonable doubt, game over.”

Oh dear. How do we digest this kind of information? And, more importantly, how do we convey research like this to a broad audience without being dismissed as “alarmist” or “fear-mongering”?

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