UN IPCC Warns Us: The Time to Act Is Now – The Window For Action on Global Warming is Fast Closing

G&A's Sustainability Highlights (10.12.2018)
Oct 16, 2018 9:15 AM ET
Newsletter

The buzz for the past few days has been about the report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that urged governments everywhere to “take rapid and far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid catastrophic events and conditions brought on by climate change.

Why?  The planet temperature could reach the critical point – keep 1.5 degrees Celsius / 2.7 F above pre-industrial levels in mind.  We must get measures in place to address the threats of floods, rising seas, food shortages, shrinking arable land, wildfires, rising seas…and more.
Today 195 countries are members of the IPCC (including the United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany, and France) and thousands of scientists all over the world contribute to the work.

The panel based its findings on the current high levels of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).  These are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2), and a number of fluorinated gases (such as hydrofluorocarbons). GHGs are measured in parts per million (ppm), parts per billion (ppb) and per trillion. The gases can remain in our atmosphere for years, decades, centuries. The end effect is to make our Earth warmer and warmer over time.  

And where do the GHG emissions come from?  Transportation, production of electricity, industry (using fossil fuels for energy, production), buildings (commercial, residential, industrial), and use of the land (agriculture, forestry, ranching).

The key takeaways from the IPCC report:  We have not done enough in the past / we are not doing enough now (to address global warming) – and we have to dramatically increase the critical steps needed to slow and stop global warming and move the global society back to the pre-industrial levels of GHG emissions (150 to 200 years ago).

The key is more aggressive and rapid reduction of carbon emissions.  Think about achieving that while continuing economic growth (everyone’s desire, everywhere); dealing with steadily increasing population growth (we are on our way to 9 billion level by 2050 says the UN); keeping public sector expenditures at levels that sustain our present way of life while allocating funds to address climate change threats; and, avoiding catastrophic upheavals of various kinds in the decades ahead.  

The IPCC report is sobering.  Our Top Story this week is a good review by CNN of where we are today and the rapidly-diminishing days we have left to begin very serious efforts for a course correction.
IPCC background information is available for you at: https://wg1.ipcc.ch/

The U.S. EPA web site also has information at a glance for you: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions

You can also access the annual Inventory of U.S. GHG Emissions and Sinks there.

This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view full issue.