Fossil fuels have been the bedrock of the world’s economy since the Industrial Revolution, for the majority of the last two centuries. And for the last two centuries, the number of chimneys and machinery billowing toxic smoke clouds into our atmosphere and contributing to devastating climate change has been growing, to the point where fumes and pollution have become accepted everyday nuisances.
A new, decisive report is urging us to move away from our dated dirty practices and toward new energy sources. It’s not just a request; it’s a necessity if we have any wish to protect our future.
The IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report on climate change in 2023, compiled by a group of United Nations writers from across the globe, shows that the next 10 years are crucial in preventing us from crossing the brink into climate disaster.
The report definitively shows that what we do now as individuals and as a global community will transform the planet for the next few thousand years. Whether that’s for the positive or for the disastrous negative is up to us.
During the Paris Agreement in 2015, most of the nations of the world agreed to halt global temperature warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above average pre-Industrial Revolution temperatures. The report explains, however, that since we continue to burn fossil fuels at an ever-growing rate, we shall surpass 1.5 degrees by the early 2030s, leading to increasingly deadly climate change.
Right now, it’s our last chance to do anything about it.
This new report insists that the wealthy, industrial countries of the world must band together and halve their emissions by 2030 and cease emitting greenhouse gases completely by 2050. Even if this is done, it’s a coin flip whether our temperatures will continue to rise or not.
This is quite terrifying news to be confronted with, but it gets — or could get — much worse. The report goes on to emphasize that if we keep following the path we’re on and abusing fossil fuels the way we are, global temperatures will increase by around 2 degrees Celsius during the 21st century.
Do we really want the 100 years that we’ve inherited to destroy the next thousand?
It’s been hard not to notice the effect that even the slightest increase in global temperatures is having on our environment, and the catastrophes it has caused over the last few years. Breaching 1.5 degrees increase does not foretell the end of the world, but does mean that millions across Earth will be subjected to the most unnecessary suffering. Populations could eventually be faced with severe droughts, crop failure, and heat waves, all leading to serious malnutrition and death. And some already are.
Food production, the report shows, is staggering with the small temperature rises we are already facing. Modern technology and improvements in farming techniques have bolstered the industry, but crop growth rates are continuing to decrease. Scary when you have 330 million people to feed in the United States alone.
This report does not necessarily contain any new findings. However, it has amalgamated all the groundbreaking research done over the last decade, to paint an ever darkening, grim picture of our potential future. Leaving us with only one color, one chance to repaint the beautiful canvas of our climate, and we must do it now!
We need to set an example for the world. The United States and China are the two greatest polluters on the planet, and as a nation, we should show that we can change our ways. Instead of investing more into the fossil fuel industry, our attention should be on clean energy. To some degree it has been, but not enough. Scientists say we must strive for net-zero emissions, in essence, we must stop emitting greenhouse gases all together.
The report makes it clear that to do this, pressure must be put on companies and the government to invest six-fold of what they already are into clean energy. This is possible for us in the US, unlike in many developing nations, so it is on us to set the precedent. Unfortunately, the bill will be around a couple of hundred billion dollars since we’ve waited so long to make serious change.
The IPCC report makes it evident that our future is our decision. And it’s our duty, as Americans and as a human community, to make the right one.