The urgency of climate change and global warming initiatives cannot be overstated. Greenhouse gas emissions’ impact on the earth have not only degraded existing ecosystems and environments, but pose a serious, and one day fatal, risk on the future of the planet and its inhabitants.
We’ve been long told and expansively warned of the irreversible damage we’re inflicting on the planet…to which, we recently hit an unfortunate, sobering and distressing milestone.
On July 1st of 2016, it was announced that climate change efforts have hit an unfortunate milestone: we’ve passed the point of no return of stopping the global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Originally set out in the Paris Agreement, this one-and-a-half degrees increase marks the breakdown of the international climate change initiative.
According to the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), we’re on course for a 2.6 to 3.1 degrees’ global rise in temperature before the end of the century.
“To get the rest of the way, we would need to assume a much more stringent action after 2030,” says an IIASA team member, “which leads to emissions reductions of about 3 to 4 percent per year globally.”
The Paris Agreement: Origins and Purpose
The Paris Agreement is comprised of the leaders and delegates from 195 world nations, formulating a global agreement on the reduction of climate change. Meeting at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, the nations in attendance collaborated to limit the rise in the average global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius – with 1.5 degrees being the ideal benchmark.
Over one year ago, the conference attendees claimed the Paris Agreement to be, “The single most important collective action for addressing climate change ever agreed upon.”
The agreement is founded on two fundamental truths: climate change is an urgent potentially irreversible threat to humanity, and the venture to reduce global emissions requires pressing collaborative action.
Have We Reached the Point of No Return?
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the current average annual atmospheric concentration of CO2 rate of increase 1.92 parts per million means we could reach the point of no return as soon as 2042.
This doesn’t give us much time to turn the tide. Leading environmental advocacy group, Greenpeace, recently released a statement that we have until 2020 to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emission output (as much as five percent annually) if we are to have a change at avoiding “runaway climate change.”
The group disclosed, “the world is fast approaching a ‘point of no return’ beyond which extremely dangerous climate change impacts can become unavoidable.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of climate change experts convened by the United Nations, supported Greenpeace’s claims, holding that without additional mitigation and adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will result in severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally.
Here, are just some of the latest statistics on the weight of the issue at hand:
- Sea levels will rise by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming
- The last two decades of the 20th century have been hottest in the last 400 years
- The Arctic ice is melting rapidly. By 2040 the region is expected to have a completely ice free summer, or even earlier
- More than 1 million species have become extinct due to disappearing habitats, ecosystems acidic oceans all caused due to global warming
There is no time like the present to start changing our ways. Earth’s future and our livelihood depend on it.