Global warming

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC

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Summary of IPCC report prepared for Sustainable Sharon Coalition (SSC)

Last Monday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report entitled SR15.

The “one five” refers to 1.5°C, which is the rise in global temperature that we must try to limit ourselves to, or face even more dire consequences than previously thought.

The IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.

The special report had 91 authors from 40 countries. Additionally, it had 133 contributing authors, used 6,000 scientific references, and considered 42,000 expert comments.

Here’s a quick overview of what it stated.

We are currently at 1° global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. We will reach 2° by as early as 2030 if nothing changes (2030-2052).

The takeaway of the report is that we are already seeing the Earth’s changes caused by a warming, that every bit of warming counts and that positive action is needed at all levels.

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, the likelihood of the Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90% with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99%) would be lost with 2°C. Extreme heat waves will hit 14% of the world’s population at least once every five years at 1.5°, versus hitting 33% of the population at the 2° rise.

The good news is that some of the kinds of actions we need to take are already underway around the world, but they need to accelerate.

Human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide need to fall about 45% (from 2010 levels) by 2030 reaching net zero by 2050.  

You may hear about techniques being developed to remove carbon from the atmosphere and find comfort in that news. The IPCC report notes that these techniques are unproven and may cause significant risks for sustainable development.

What can YOU do?

VOTE for candidates that will lead on climate, work for candidates all across the country that will lead on climate.

LOBBY your elected officials at all levels,

BRING IT UP with the organizations you support, religious institutions you belong to, and your workplace.

TAKE ACTION personally – volunteer with SSC, go to SharonSaves on the SSC website and sign up for a free home energy assessment, look into purchasing an electric car if you can, take the October Plastic-free challenge run by the SSC 5Rs committee, work to stop deforestation of the rainforest, try to eat a plant-based diet as often as possible (I’m available to consult on vegan diets and protein needs), go to NSGP – Climate Change – take action and look for a publication called a Citizen’s Guide to Reducing Energy Waste for more ways to cut your carbon footprint.

I hope you don’t feel overwhelmed by this report. Instead, I hope you feel empowered by the knowledge and understanding that there are pathways to solve this and that there are organizations like SSC that are here to assist.

The next few years are the most critical in the history of the Earth.

To read the IPCC press release, go to https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/session48/pr_181008_P48_spm_en.pdf

To contact Bri McAlevey, email bri@sustainablesharon.org

by Bri McAlevey, Chair of the SSC Climate and Energy Committee