Do you have children, or if not, perhaps a soft spot in your heart for them? If so, with the rest of us in the so-called developed world, you might consider, “What kind of future are we creating for them?”
On Monday, November 25 the International New York Times ran an editorial entitled, “Climate Crisis: Who will act?” by Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations. He highlights the results of the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and begs us to reconsider the reality and consequences of global climate change. I offer for your consideration, several FACTS from the IPCC report, which is based on 9,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies, and arguably the most scrutinized document on the planet.
- The science behind the IPCC report was developed by more than 2,000 top climate scientists from around the globe and scrutinized by the governments of 110 nations. It is unequivocal in its conclusion: We must limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to preindustrial levels, or face traumatic impact on humanity within the coming decades and beyond.
- The report states that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed; the amount of snow and ice diminished; sea levels have risen; and the concentration of greenhouse gases has increased.”
- Stanford University IPCC scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Christ Field have found that the current pace of warming is occurring 10 times faster than any time over the last 65 million years, and growing.
- The IPCC report notes that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” By “extremely likely,” the report means the probability equivalent to it is “extremely likely” that cigarettes cause cancer.
- Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina on the U.S. East Coast, incessant wildfires in Australia and the U.S. western states are just the very beginning of the effects of climate change.
- Oceans have increased in acidity by 26% since the start of the industrial era causing sea fauna, coral reefs and fish life to diminish.
- A group of 20 developed countries is responsible for nearly 80% of the carbon emissions from fuel combustion.
- It is essential that governments start phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, which this year will be $485 billion worldwide, and begin incentivizing the development, commercialization and broad distribution of alternative energy. It is a propagated myth that the combination of increased energy efficiencies and alternative energy sources cannot make a major impact, worldwide.
I think there is still hope for us and our children. Governments have proven that they will not lead the way. They can help with incentives for alternative energy technologies, removing fossil fuel subsidies, and a carbon tax that returns generated revenues to its citizens. Business, the strongest power on the planet is in the right position to provide leadership. Companies that are front runners can lead us from a potentially catastrophic future, and do well financially as a consequence.