World still has a chance, with drastic action, to avoid worst effects of climate change – Chicago Sun-Times
It’s human nature to underplay critical and complex problems such as climate change. Perhaps recent temperature charges, droughts and storm strength are part of an ordinary long-term weather cycle. Maybe we just need to plant more trees. Maybe new technology will solve everything.
But a study issued Monday by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it clear we can’t afford to have people thinking that way. As it is, the study — the climate panel’s first comprehensive report since the 2015 Paris Agreement — says saving the planet will require cooperation across the globe, huge sums of investment and a willingness to work hard to make big things happen.
Some people, no doubt, will say we have been hearing climate disaster warnings for years, and yet we are all still here. But if you listen, you hear the repeated warnings saying the train is barreling down the tracks closer and closer to us, and if we don’t act to a greater degree than we have, the Earth no longer will be as nurturing a place to inhabit.
In fact, the U.N. report says, the world has no more than 10 years to drastically restructure its economies and transition away from the burning of fossil fuels. Emissions must be cut by nearly half by 2030. Considering the fossil fuel jobs at stake, the investment required, the squabbling over how to proceed and plain old inertia, that might feel like an insurmountable task.
But it’s one that must be achieved. As U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday, what’s needed is action on “everything, everywhere, all at once.”
Large cities such as Chicago must take the lead because they are especially vulnerable to the predicted devastation of climate change. Cities also are where most people live.
Already, the burning of fossil fuels has irreversibly damaged ecosystems. Yet look around to see if sufficient effort is going into reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. Taking baby steps to flee doesn’t work when a massive tornado is approaching.
Despite all the warnings since scientists first outlined the threat of climate change, too little has been accomplished to keep global warming from going past 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the line that puts the planet in the danger zone. Temperatures have already risen more than 1.1 degrees Celsius.
Yet the planet has the tools and the know-how. This is the world’s last chance to act, and it should do so.
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