Report: Humans Might Do More To Stop Climate Change Once It’s Too Late

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

(Isaac Cordal/Flickr)

The fifth and most recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which may as well be titled “How Screwed Are We? Quite!” once again delves into the depressing particulars of the future unless sweeping measures are taken immediately.

The report found that, although the situation remains dire, more countries than ever have expressed willingness to implement aggressive emissions-cutting measures. The study’s authors, comprised of scientists, economists and experts from several countries, reiterate that energy efficient buildings and vehicles make a meaningful difference in reducing greenhouse gases, but also that the price of renewable energy like wind and solar power are an increasingly economical alternative to the noxious fossil fuels for which we’ve desperately mined the earth.

Which is not to say that countries around the world are anywhere near sufficiently gung-ho about mitigating the effects of global warming. Developing countries in particular have pushed back against policies that they see as unfairly burdensome to their economic well-being, and wealthier countries were quick to ax language that implied they’d be financing the efforts of developing countries. Everyone still seems to really love burning coal. (“In the last decade, the main contributors to emission growth were a growing energy demand and an increase of the share of coal in the global fuel mix.”)

When it comes to annihilation at the hand of extreme weather, there is, of course, no “A” for effort. The report makes explicit that any further delay in drastically reducing fossil fuels will leave future generations scrambling to undo the damage—which will be, at best, costly, and at worst, useless. Failure to act with the appropriate urgency can and will produce drastic effects, scientists warn: The collapse of ice sheets, rising sea levels, food scarcity and mass extinctions of plants and animals are all potential by-products of our continued reliance on fossil fuels. To say nothing of the catastrophic weather events already occurring with unprecedented frequency and force, often to the detriment of some of the world’s poorest nations.

The report doesn’t offer any specific guidelines, but it does offer a healthy spread of options. Ultimately, whether climate change will be curbed or not rests in the hands of both policy makers and everyday people, who may or may not still be hand-wringing over the pernicious bicycles taking up the blessed parking spaces.

“What this report means is that there are very key choices for governments and business and citizens to make, and that the timing of action is absolutely vital,” Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy programs at the World Resources Institute, told NPR. “If we wait, we will close off opportunities to avoid the impacts and we’ll make it a lot more expensive.”

Comments are closed.