Last year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a dire warning. Prepared by 91 climate scientists from 40 countries, the report confirmed we had, at that time, just 12 years to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent to keep global temperature rise below 1.5° centigrade (2.7° Fahrenheit). The report includes some 6,000 scientific citations from hundreds of published scientific papers on climate change, including the fact that 16 of the hottest 17 years on record have occurred since 2001.
Why is the 1.5°C limit is so important? That increase would limit the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Already we are seeing an increase in crop failures from droughts and flooding, more frequent and longer life-threatening heat waves, rising sea levels from ever-accelerating glacial loss, ocean acidification that threatens the entire marine food chain, and billions and billions of dollars in losses from increasingly intense hurricanes. The report concludes that at 1.5°C, these impacts, though costly and disruptive, will be tolerable. Above this threshold, they will not.
The science is indisputable. Human activity is responsible for this rapid and dangerous rise in global temperatures. Over 200 prestigious scientific organizations worldwide concur, while not a single such organization disagrees.
We have just over 11 years left. Last month was the hottest month in human history. We owe it to our children, grandchildren, and all future generations to do all we can to heed the IPCC’s warning.