Climate change isn’t a new problem for this generation. Reports from environmentalists and companies have been written for years predicting rising ocean levels, greenhouse gases and natural disasters as a result of our carbon emissions. However, the UN recently released a report discussing the effects of climate change currently in effect and why it’s imperative to slow global warming.
The temperature of Earth has increased by about 1.5 degrees Celsius, mostly within the last 40 years. If the temperature of the planet reaches half a degree hotter, life threatening temperatures and natural disasters will become normal. The worsening hurricanes, forest fires and hotter temperatures we’re experiencing now are evidence of the impact climate change has had on the planet.
The UN recently released a statement warning that we only have 12 years to stop climate change from worsening. Reaching 2ºC could melt all of the ice in the arctic during each summer, leaving no habitat for animals in the region.
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report summary. Other effects include famine, loss of all coral reefs, and more rising ocean levels, affecting millions of people. Severe heat waves will start affecting a third of the planet.
Carbon production would have to be cut nearly in half over the next decade to keep the Earth at its current temperature. Reforestation, renewable energy and halting oil extraction are all crucial to meeting this goal. While it seems like a demanding request, political leaders have already taken steps towards fulfilling it. The World Bank is pulling funding for oil extraction in 2020, and 195 countries are committed to reducing carbon use through more sustainable energy as a part of the Paris climate accord.
Despite a difficult situation, there are promising ways to slow global warming through renewable energy and cutting emissions. All that’s missing are more committed goals from our country and others.