In October of 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report warning of the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. For us losers on the United States Customary Units System, that’s 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. This doesn’t sound like a significant rise. We all like warm weather, right? No. Not when it causes extreme weather conditions and the destruction of things like coral reefs and ancient trees.
The special report drew on findings and conclusions of thousands of science community members and policy experts. The core point of the report was that if global warming continues at the rate it is currently at, it will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052. Just in time for a midlife crisis. Great.
This was determined by analyzing the trends of global surface temperature since the pre-industrial period. The rate of rising temperatures has increased within the last decade by a significant amount, leading the science community to believe the increase is from human activity.
As made clear by the IPCC report, anthropogenic emissions are not the only thing that would cause an increase in global warming; however, they still advise reaching and sustaining net zero global anthropogenic emissions to slow and halt human-caused global warming. It is necessary that global warming slows because risks for natural and human systems will be greater at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The potential impacts and risks include more extreme temperatures, heavy precipitation in some regions, drought in several regions and species loss and extinction. We all love penguins and butterflies, so scientists have been looking into mitigation pathways in order to give human and ecological systems time to adapt and survive.
Among the changes is reducing emissions by 40 to 50 percent by 2030. The next 12 years are critical because the only way to stay at or below 1.5 degrees is addressing greenhouse gas emissions within that window of time. Reaching this goal would mean changes in industry, transportation and energy need to be made immediately.
On Feb. 7, 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed an outline for the Green New Deal. Along with Sen. Ed Markey, a framework was created to remake the US economy and eliminate US carbon emissions. It is unclear if the bill will pass, but it could be a step in the right direction for acting on rapid global warming.
It is hard to sit back and watch as the earth nears catastrophe. You may feel like you have no impact while congressmen and women make decisions about the environment. There are some things one can do to help fight for the environment. Saving energy, reducing emissions and eating a diet that reduces an impact are great ways to do this.
However, the best thing one can do in this political climate is to make your voice heard. If you want to prevent catastrophic events that wipe out ecosystems and species from happening, stand up. Call your representatives and senators. Ask them to take action. March and tell your story. Work as hard as you can to save the only earth we will ever have while you can.