Today, the landmark Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was presented to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Incheon, Republic of Korea. That the report’s tone was one of urgency is no surprise. The bottom line: if we can’t keep temperatures from climbing another 1.5 degrees Celsius, (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) we can expect more droughts, floods, extreme heat – weather that will seriously impact millions, especially the poor.
The report was part of the Paris agreement which stipulated that it had to be written, researched and presented at the IPCC panel in 2018. It was authored by hundreds of the world’s leading climate scientists and includes a total of 42,001 expert and government review comments and over 6,000 cited references.
In order to save the earth, scientists tell us we have to kick our carbon habit so emissions would be at least 49% of 2017 levels by 2030. If warming goes unchecked and the level of greenhouse gases increase, we may miss the closing window of opportunity to reverse the warming trend. Unfortunately the report says we have a long way to get to the point slows or even stop dangerous warming trends. But the report also cited ways to reduce greenhouse gases, giving those countries who are committed some hope. For example, we are advised to use renewable and sustainable energy systems such as wind and solar power – at least enough to provide 70–85% of the world’s electricity. Planting new forests and saving existing forests would help to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Other proposed measures include changing lifestyles: eating less meat, riding bicycles, flying less. Just getting off the ground is the technology to pull excessive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and pump it underground – those plans are still on the drawing board, but the report says this could be a great help once fully developed.
Although the outlook is dire, there appears to be one of hope mainly because of the progress made by climate scientists to shed light on how human interference can either save or ruin the planet. Hoesung Lee, the Chair of the IPCC 48th Session of the IPCC said, “Science alerts us to the gravity of the situation, but science also, and this special report in particular, helps us understand the solutions available to us.”