In a decade or so, the summer of 2023 will be looked back on as a beautiful, cool, enjoyable time. We will tell each other, “Those were the days.” That is likely to be the case whether or not we Earthlings do finally get it together to take the actions necessary to keep the climate crisis from turning us all to toast. Because, as has become clear over the past few years, many global warming impacts are already baked in or inevitably oncoming. How bad this will ultimately turn out to be is very much a matter of debate among climatologists and depends greatly on how much we do and how fast we do it to mitigate the worst impacts and maybe prevent a few altogether.
One thing we’re definitely not doing is moving speedily enough to reduce the climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions that come with using fossil fuels to run 21st Century civilization. Instead we’re still headed the other direction. Scientists say we have to reduce worldwide emissions 43% by 2030 to avoid the worst impacts of the crisis. Currently, all the national climate plans will produce only a 7% reduction. Climate activists have a solution to this off-target trajectory. Commit to rapidly phasing out fossil fuels.
A week before the 28th annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention opens in oil-rich Dubai, it makes depressing reading.
At the time of writing it is 422.36 parts per million. That is 5.06ppm more than the same day last year. That rise in 12 months is probably the largest ever recorded — more than double the last decade’s annual average.
To give some perspective, exactly a decade ago the concentration was 395.64ppm. Then the scientific community worried about the effect on the weather if we were to pass the 400 mark. Now we know: the result is catastrophic heatwaves, storms, droughts, floods and rapidly increasing and unstoppable sea level rise.
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