Only 3 years to save the planet from disaster

Only 3 years to save the planet from disaster

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Entire ecosystems are beginning to be destroyed on the planet and the consequences could be fatal if action is not taken before 2020.

The signs are clear: the rate of sea level rise in the last 25 years has grown by 50%. The last three years were the hottest on the planet in recorded history; some cities suffered historic temperatures.

Despite this clarity in the facts, citizens, governments and companies remain convinced that the most catastrophic consequences of climate change will be in the distant future.

A group of scientists and diplomats decided to take responsibility for communicating what is happening and alerting those who are still disbelieving of the present and future consequences of climate change. This group is made up of the researcher and former UN Environment Officer Christiana Figueres and the physicist Stefan Rahmstorf. The warning has been published in letter format in the scientific journal 'Nature' and says: the world has three years to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or climate change will dangerously affect humanity. "

The letter was signed by more than 60 scientists, activists, politicians and businessmen, including the former Mexican presidentFelipe Calderon, the former Irish PresidentMary robinson and the CEO of Unilever,Paul polman. “There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change. But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us remain optimistic and act with courage, ”the authors conclude.

The World Economic Forum, also called the Davos Forum, an independent body based in Geneva that includes the main business, political and intellectual leaders, whom no one would ever call extreme environmentalists, also collaborates in the dissemination.

It is urgent to reduce emissions before 2020

"If emissions continue to increase when 2020 passes, or even remain at the same levels, the temperature objectives established in the Paris Agreement will be unattainable," the letter details, referring to the report published in April 2016 . “Reducing emissions globally isa monumental task, but research tells us that it is necessary, desirable and achievable ”, they add.

The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are losing mass at a very rapid rate, sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are "dying from the heat" as a result of global warming. "Entire ecosystems are beginning to be destroyed. The social impacts of climate change, droughts and rising sea levels are inexorable, affecting first the poorest and weakest ”, they warn.

2016 was the warmest year on record, with a temperature of 1.1ºC above the levels prior to the Industrial Revolution, which represents 0.06 more than the previous record, registered in 2015. This global warmingis dangerously close to the limit 1.5 degrees, reached in the Paris Agreement. According to different studies, above this increase in temperature, some ecosystems would begin to sufferchanges never seen during the Holocene, that is, in the last 10,000 years.

The issue requires urgent action, because this year temperatures have reached levels never recorded in many parts of the planet: it is the third consecutive year in which they have been reached.patterns not recorded for 115,000 years, when an interglacial era reigned and the sea was at levels between 6 and 9 meters higher than today.

If we exceed 1.5ºC, it will be devastating for the planet

It has been calculated that there is a"Carbon budget", set between 150 and 1,050 total gigatons, to keep the planet below the 1.5ºC limit. Carbon emissions are known to have stabilized in the last two years by about41 gigatons per year. In any case, despite this tendency towards “stability”, this figure implies thatonly in four years would the lowest rank be reached of this budget and in 15 years we would have spent half.

“If the current annual emissions rate is kept at this level, we would have toleave them almost immediately to zero once we run out of budget. Such a jump does not interest anyone. A more gradual decline would allow the world economy to adapt smoothly in time, ”the experts write.

Hans Otto-Poertner, researcher at the German Alfred-Wagener Institute for Marine and Polar Research and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), explains that global warming, in addition to triggering or enhancing environmental catastrophes ,changes the thermal limits of organisms, also those of the human being: “The increase in the average temperature limits the ability to work outdoors. From 40ºC, fatigue affects the body as a whole. In many places, this increase affects the health of the population and has very negative impacts on the productivity of workers, ”he says. Many plant communities do not resist this increase in temperature, and neither can livestock.

"If we do not stop the increase in the average temperature of the planet,some areas of the Earth will become uninhabitables, both for humans and for most mammals ”, says this ecophysiologist.

But there is still a light for the experts “The good news is thatit is still possible to achieve the objectives temperature of Paris if emissions start to decline by 2020. ″ In this way, although they remember that President Donald Trump has promised to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, experts urge world leaders to use and defend science to guide policy.

The possible plan to reduce emissions

There are three ways that can make it easier for our leaders and each one of us to get down to work at once.

The first,make decisions based on scientific knowledge, promote environmental disclosure in all fields, and demand that our politicians defend science. Number two, make it clear thatthe fossil-free economy it is already a profitable business. And the third,encourage optimism: in this issue there are no impossible challenges, everything is a matter of attitude. It is crucial that success stories are shared: that encourages the community. And although we already know it, we will not tire of repeating it: there is nothing more powerful than a collective taking the same individual action.

In addition, the authors of the letter propose a plan with six goals to reduce emissions by 2020:

  • Increaserenewable energy 30% of electricity use.
  • Projects and plans for cities and states to abandon thefossil fuels in 2050, with a financing of 300,000 million dollars annually.
  • Ensure that 15% of allvehicles new sold beelectrical.
  • Reduce net emissions fromdeforestation.
  • Halve the carbon emissions of theheavy industry by 2050.
  • Encourage governments and private banks to issue more"Green bonds" to fund climate mitigation efforts.

To reflect

On planet Earth, natural systems are interconnected in a much more subtle way than we imagine, as the meteorologist and father of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, summarized in the sixties: “the flutter of a butterfly in Brazil it can produce a tornado in Texas ”. Imagine then the possible impact of climate change in our lives ... but let's not lose hope, we act now!

With information from:

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