To curb climate change, we need to make huge changes now
An intergovernmental panel of scientists met this week to combine years of research and produce a collaborative report on climate change. The major takeaway: We need to act to curb global warming like, yesterday. Literally we will not be able to live on this planet much longer if we continue on the path we’re on.
The report, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, basically says our best chance of continued survival on Earth depends on keeping the total rise of global temperatures under 1.5 degrees celsius, but says the world is actually on track to see a 3-degree rise. Curbing global warming to 1.5 degrees warmer than the planet is now will take immediate and drastic change, but if the world acts now, it can still be done.
“Scientists might want to write in capital letters, ‘ACT NOW, IDIOTS,’ but they need to say that with facts and numbers,” Kaisa Kosonen, a Greenpeace member who observed the climate summit, told the BBC. “And they have.”
The consensus is that allowing the planet to warm more than 1.5 degrees will officially start to limit humans’ ability to live here, and that on the current track, we could hit 1.5 degrees warmer in just 12 years. Making the changes required to keep warming below that threshold will take 2.5 percent of the entire global GDP, which is obviously a massive amount of cash. It will also take global cooperation and universal participation in major lifestyle changes, which, in this age of bitter division in politics, feel hopelessly out of reach.
So what can we actually do? The most sweeping changes will have to happen on a large scale, but the report does say that individuals can contribute in a number of important ways. They can limit their buying of meat, cheese, milk and butter; try not to throw away so much food; walk and bike instead of driving places; drive electric cars; take trains and buses instead of planes; line dry clothes instead of using a dryer; properly insulate their homes to conserve energy from heating and cooling; and demand that more products be produced in ways that reduce carbon emissions.
“That’s a very empowering message for the individual,” Dr. Debra Roberts, the panel’s co-chair, said. “This is not about remote science; it is about where we live and work, and it gives us a cue on how we might be able to contribute to that massive change, because everyone is going to have to be involved.”
And with elections coming up next month and in 2020, it’s more important than ever to elect leaders who not only believe in climate change, but vow to make the policy changes that will help curb it.
Our time is officially up when it comes to arguing over the legitimacy of climate science. World scientists are in agreement. The consensus is we need to stop arguing and act now. Our actual lives on this planet depend on it.