One way to stop the polite conversation at a neighborhood get-together is to mention something like the United Nations. That’s why I have lots of trepidation in mentioning it here. In an energy blog, it must be mentioned, though. The UN’s climate report has so much press; can’t just put on blinders.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report has this headline: Human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years.
“We have met the enemy and it is us,” says a famous cartoon. There is a “near-linear relationship” between cumulative human-caused CO2 emissions and global warming says the report.
Action taken right now will take years to help. Check the chart, left, from the report. “Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” (Report – Headline Statements)
Policymakers, if you only read one section of the 40+ pages in the report for legislators, start on page 36: Limiting Future Climate Change. This is as close to a roadmap you may get. Especially note section D.1.8, which in part says that we must do more than gradually reduce our CO2 emissions. Action is needed quickly and a net-zero CO2 emissions rate is essential to reach.
Bottom line: Policymakers must attack this on several fronts:
- Reduce current emissions as much as possible now. Set a path for reductions.
- Open opportunities for electric vehicles, work-from-home, public transportation…
- Prepare for new energy technologies: Advanced nuclear, wave energy, power storage, microgrids…
- Tear down state lines for expertise, companies that have done the work. This is a big barrier. New technologies need to be brought in. New people need to bring in their skills.
Perhaps this is the best way to persuade policymakers to do the right thing – you will be seen as a leader in the long term.
Get past short-term noise. Reason this out on behalf of your citizens, their children, and grandchildren.
Feature image is a NASA map of heat on the surface of the Earth, July 2021.