2˚C global average temperature rise has long been a line in the sand, which if crossed, would trigger the most severe effects of climate change. In 2016, during talks for the Paris Climate Agreement, policymakers commissioned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 91 scientists from 40 countries, to study what would be triggered by a 1.5˚C change as a way to peg what earlier damage might come.
The report, released earlier this month, is full of dire news for the climate the amount of time we have to act. It stated that we have 12 years to make drastic changes to the worldwide economy, or we will face huge consequences - drought, floods, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, all possible as soon as 2040. It’s estimated that for each of these milestones, 1.5˚ C and 2˚ C, the worldwide damage would cost $54 Trillion and $69 Trillion respectively. Any warming past that would magnify significantly, and cost hundreds of trillions of dollars. The damage won’t be felt equally however, the study shows that poor and impoverished countries will bear the brunt of the damage, triggering a worldwide refuge crisis. With current worldwide commitments, we are on track to overshoot both of these milestones and reach an insane 3˚C of temperature change.Current CO2 emissions are about 40 Billion tons per year. In order to make changes to limit 1.5˚ C warming, they would need to be halved by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050, as well as implementing carbon capture at a massive scale.
So this is pretty scary shit.
The world community has stepped up a bit more, while the U.S. is not doing anything meaningful to stop it. Trump pulled us out of the Paris Climate Agreement all together. The Republican Party is the last political faction on earth that doesn’t believe in climate change, and they’re in power. There are several ways we can tackle this problem, and every single one is built on the first step of voting Republicans out of office. It’s one of the main reasons this election is the most important of our lifetimes. Time is ticking - we have 12 years to start making these drastic changes.
What follows after can take one, but ideally all, of several approaches. First - we can radically increase energy efficiency. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), we would need to cut the energy intensity of the global economy by two-thirds by 2050. This would lead to a lower energy demand in 2050 than we have today, despite growing populations, and a global economy over three times larger than todays. Second - we can radically increase use of renewable energy. Every model for reaching these climate goals rely on renewable energy becoming the dominant producer of global electricity. According to IRENA, those sources would have to grow sixfold faster than they are currently and be supplying 85 percent of global electricity by 2050. Third - We can electrify everything. This would involve switching most sectors that currently rely heavily on fossil fuels, to instead relying on electricity. The case for this is simple. Zero-carbon electricity can be easily generated with current technology, but increasing supply of zero-carbon fuels is very difficult. IRENA says that to reach goals we will have to increase electricity from 21 percent of worldwide energy consumption to 40 percent in 2050. Fourth - We need to remove emissions from the atmosphere. This is accomplished through soil carbon sequestration, reforestation, and afforestation. Now, each of these solutions require drastic change, and willing worldwide governments to implement, but they are absolutely viable solutions. We need to get them rolling, and we need to do it now.
In our everyday lives, we ignore issues that seen like they don’t have immediate solutions, and try to work past them. It’s just the way we are. It’s easy to see this as an issue that doesn’t have a solution, because there aren’t obvious actionable resolutions. We need to take bold steps as a country to conquer climate change. We need to make our generation the one that finally figures this out, and that means committing fully to the fight. We have conquered greater problems in history, so this, climate change, needs to be our next great American adventure. Thats why it’s important to vote, and in every election. Vote to give us a fighting chance to save the environment. Let’s lead the world again, and solve the biggest problem of our generation, instead of being the only country on earth that denies it.
IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - report.ipcc.ch
Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050 - irena.org/publications/2018/Apr/Global-Energy-Transition-A-Roadmap-to-2050
Bonus: Why You Should Vote, and why I started #CreativesVote
#CreativesVote is an effort to encourage a political voice for young people through social media.
To be honest, I guess I started #CreativesVote because I’m an idealist. I see the things that are going on in our world, and I can’t help but think there’s a better wayI’d like for things to be all good and worked out - world peace, everyone fed and all that, but for now I’ll settle for taking a step towards being better. We may never reach a perfect place, but better is good. Not perfect solutions to the problems that face us, but a step in the right direction, with momentum to go forward. That is worth the effort.
But we aren’t going in that direction. We aren’t taking steps toward that ‘better’ at all, but running away from it as fast as we can. This may just be a temporary diversion from ‘better’, but it’s one that urgently needs to be corrected before permanence sets in. We are removing protections on natural places at an alarming rate, permits for offshore oil drilling are being issued
as fast as they can, and some of the last old-growth forest in the U.S. are up for sale to logging companies. That’s a look at environmental issues. We have confirmed a Supreme Court justice - a lifetime appointment - and the man appointed has lied under oath several times and is credibly accused of sexual assault. So there's a look at where our courts stand. A tax cut for the wealthiest people in America was passed into law, and millions of people, myself included, are unable to afford healthcare. College debt burdens almost every young person in America. We can’t buy homes. These are not things that indicate a move towards the better.
A voice from young people is what’s missing from this picture. Only 1 in 5 people age 17-35 voted in the 2016 elections. Policies the government enacts effects all of our lives everyday, so why don’t we care more for it? From my experience, it's because people don’t know where to start. They don’t know the issues that impact them. They don’t know who represents them in government. And it's okay to not understand, were all in the same boat - the political system is incredibly complicated. We can’t sit idly by because of that, so we must educate ourselves, and we need to vote. Every single one of us. And we have to do it now.
I am doing all this because I believe in the power of us. It’s my idealism speaking that tells me we can all come together for a common good. It’s my idealism that tells me social media and it’s influencers have a powerful positive potential, to inspire and empower people, and not just to push sales of Irish Spring body wash to people. It’s my idealism that inspired me to try to build something bigger than any one of us to give people a voice.
I’ve had friends tell me I’m a good leader, but I’ll be honest, Im scared as hell to be doing this. I feel anxious, conflicted, and unsure. To take on a project this big with no prior experience seems like an exercise in futility. But I’m still going because this shit matters to me. It matters to every single person in America. If I can fight through my reservations to take one step towards the better, then all of this is infinitely worth it.
I believe that we can protect wild places, see equal treatment of women across society, give people a chance at living in dignity, making sure people have access to affordable healthcare, ensure people can educate themselves without bankrupting themselves, and so many other good things. It’s time to step up and start building a better world that young people, and our children, will have to live in for another 40, 50, 60 years. That is why I’m doing this.