Thursday, December 31, 2020

Op-Ed: We Must Cut Carbon Emissions From Fossil Fuels To Zero By 2050 To Prevent Passing A Point From Which We Cannot Adapt

Richard Whiteford, Independent Journalist & Climate Change Educator

The United Nations recently released the “Fossil Fuel Production Gap Report”, saying, “To follow a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6 percent per year between 2020 and 2030. Countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase of 2 percent, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit.”

In the 2015 COP-21 Paris Climate Summit the world’s climate scientists concluded that we must keep Earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above 1990 levels to prevent us from passing a point from which we cannot adapt. 

To achieve that, we must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to zero by 2050. That is a formidable feat! 

Why quibble over a half-degree you may ask. A half-degree difference may not sound like much but according to the United Nations, a half degree may mean the difference between a world with coral reefs and Arctic summer sea ice and a world without. Coral reefs provide food and coastal protection for half a billion people.

The Earth has already warmed 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of the industrial revolution. 

The average land temperature in the northern hemisphere north of 60 degrees latitude, as measured from October 2019 through September 2020, was 1.9 degrees Celsius, or 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above the baseline average for 1981-2010 and the second highest in more than a century of record-keeping. 

The National Snow & Ice Data Center reported a loss of 3.47 million square miles of summer ice in 2020.

Given the visible evidence of a warming planet from record-breaking wildfire seasons, hurricane seasons, droughts, heatwaves, and given that climate-related events have cost the US over $500 billion one would think we would be in a hurry to save our life support system. 

The fact that the fossil industry plans to increase fossil fuel production despite this evidence is like refusing to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the denial seems to be the misguided perception, fueled by politicians and the fossil industry that climate change is a hoax like many said about COVID-19 and that they were hoaxes perpetrated by elites to kill jobs and gain more political, social, and economic power. 

In both cases, those like-minded people refuse to acknowledge the COVID death rate or the environmental destruction and defiantly refuse to wear a mask and stop burning fossil fuels.    

Both climate change and COVID-19 are equalizers. They don’t respond to human desires, political affiliations, or ideologies and both will eventually kill you. 

The only way to save humanity from climate change is to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050.

There is no shortage of solutions to lessen the impact of climate change, many of which will jumpstart our economy, proposed in the UN report, the Green New Deal, and here in Pennsylvania, joining RGGI, so what are we waiting for?

Oh, by the way, COVID-19 didn’t “magically vanish” right after the election, nor will climate change. 

[Visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage to learn more about the proposal.  Public comments on the proposal are due January 14. Read more here.]

Richard Whiteford is an internationally acclaimed public speaker, climate change expert, writer, and environmental activist based in Chester County.


-- Rachel McDevitt: PA’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Goals Set To Flatline Next Year, Unless Legislature Acts

-- Rachel McDevitt: Top Energy/Environment Story Of 2020: The Fight Over RGGI

-- Allegheny Front: State Program Is Helping Boroughs, Towns Plan For Climate Change

Related Articles This Week:

-- Better Path Coalition Asks For Removal Of Rep. Metcalfe As Chair Of House Environmental Committee After He Calls Veterans Fighting Climate Change Traitors

-- Op-Ed: Climate Change Is Affecting Us All In Pennsylvania, Especially In Philadelphia - By Joseph Otis Minott, Clean Air Council

-- Op-Ed: RGGI - A More Mindful Approach To PA Agriculture And Climate Change - By Michael Kovach, PA Farmers Union

Related Articles - Climate:

-- PA Will Experience 42% More Days Of Extremely Heavy Precipitation By 2050 Due To Climate Change

-- Clean Power PA Coalition: 95% Of Commenters At EQB Hearing On Proposed Power Plant Carbon Pollution Reduction Regulation Hearings Supported The Proposal

-- Sen. Costa Introduces Bill To Reduce Carbon Pollution From Power Plants, Protect Communities, Workers Already Affected By Changing Energy Economy

-- Report: Clean Energy Is A Leading Creator Of New Quality Jobs In Pennsylvania

-- DEP Senate Budget Hearing: Coal-Fired Power Plants Are Closing Without RGGI, We Have To Confront This Issue, Help Workers, Communities

-- Op-Ed: Keep Pennsylvania’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative On Track - Rep. Greg Vitali 

-- Op-Ed: DEP Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Is Not About Climate Change - Sen. Langerholc & Rep. Rigby

-- Op-Ed: PA Needs More Jobs, RGGI Will Create Them By Investing In Energy Efficiency - Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance

[Posted: December 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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