Give Gifts Top Banner

Sections
Home » Issues » Climate Solutions » We Are 2° from Disaster: How to Turn it Around

Get a FREE Issue. Yes! I want to try YES! Magazine

Nonprofit. Independent. Subscriber-supported. DONATE. How you can support our work.

YES! by Email
Join over 78,000 others already signed up for FREE YES! news.
[SAMPLE]

The YES! ChicoBag(R). Full-size tote that fits in your pocket!

 

We Are 2° from Disaster: How to Turn it Around

Document Actions

Read this article in Spanish. Lea este artículo en español

 

 

Can we keep climate change from spiraling out of control?
The answer, by the numbers.


temperature increments


A 2-degree rise in temperature is the most the Earth can tolerate without dangerous climate change, scientists tell us. The International Panel on Climate Change says that as temperature rises, these effects will kick in:

spacer
Photo by Gary Braasch. Tuvalu kids. Copyright © Gary Braasch
spacer
Rising sea levels threaten the tiny Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu, inhabited by Polynesians for 3,000 years. Tuvalu residents now face a drowning country.
Photo by Gary Braasch www.earthunderfire.com

:: PHOTO ESSAY: Earth Under Fire

 

  • Increasing illness and death from heat waves, floods, drought
  • Hundreds of millions of people lack drinking water
  • Weather changes shift species’ ranges
  • Increased wildfires
  • Grain production decreasing in low latitudes
  • 30 percent of species at increased extinction risk
  • Increasing malnutrition, waterborne disease, & infectious disease
  • Change in range of mosquitos and other disease vectors
Threshold of Dangerous Climate Change banner
  • 15% of ecosystems affected, changing biological sinks to carbon sources
  • Coastal flooding
  • Corals bleached
  • Ecosystems disrupted by weakening of “ocean conveyor” system
  • 30% of coastal wetlands lost
  • Widespread death of coral reefs
  • Grain production decreasing
  • Substantial burden on worldwide health services
  • Significant extinctions worldwide
  • All grain production decreases
  • 40% of ecosystems affected; “sink to source” changes accelerate
Here's What We Can Do banner
Act Quickly

The green line is the familiar goal: 80 percent CO2 reduction by 2050. If we get there, we’re climate cool, right? Actually, if we follow that course, we have a 50 percent chance—a coin toss—of staying within the 2 degrees the IPCC says is the critical range. The sooner we start and the faster we decrease CO2 emissions, the better our odds.


Act Quickly graph

Source: Blair Henry, Climate Change: Playing to Winwww.henryconsulting.biz

Zero-Carbon Electricity

Arjun Makhijani has been thinking about cleaner, more efficient energy for more than 35 years. When he heard that we need to go fossil-carbon free by 2050, he doubted it was possible. Research changed his mind, and his book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, tells exactly how it can be done. Here’s how Makhijani sees the energy supply changing for buildings, transportation and electricity. Makhijani’s plan relies in part on biofuel from algae. Guy Dauncey says we can go carbon neutral with clean electricity. There’s no single path, other than the path that starts right now.


Act Quickly graph

Zero-Carbon Buildings



Zero-Carbon Buildings graph

Zero-Carbon Transportation


Zero-Carbon Transportation graph


Source for zero-carbon graphs: Institute for Energy and Environmental Researchwww.ieer.org


MORE TO DO:

Protect Biological Sinks

One of the biggest threats to the Earth’s ability to soak up CO2 is deforestation, especially loss of rainforests. Think deforestation is caused by poor practices in the developing world?

Indonesia and Malaysia are slashing rainforest to make palm oil plantations. But they export most of their palm oil to the European Union, China, Russia, and the U.S.—traditionally for food, but increasingly for biodiesel. Brazil is also carving cattle pasture and sugar cane fields out of the rainforest. It’s the world’s No. 1 exporter of beef, feeding the EU, Hong Kong, and the U.S., and aims to double production of sugar cane ethanol, to sell to the U.S. and other countries.

What’s the key to stopping deforestation? Getting the developed world to leave resources where they are, for use by locals.

spacer
Deforestation in Brasil. Photo courtesy of Brasil2 / I-S
spacer
Photo courtesy of Brasil2 / I-S
spacer

Madeline Ostrander and Doug Pibel wrote this article as part of Stop Global Warming Cold, the Spring 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Madeline is associate editor and Doug is managing editor of YES! Magazine. Photos of Doug Pibel and Madeline Ostrander
spacer

 

Si! en espanol logo

Lea este artículo en español ::
Read this article in Spanish

Email Signup
Climate Solutions
Comment on this article

How to add a commentCommenting Policy

comments powered by Disqus


You won’t see any commercial ads in YES!, in print or on this website.
That means, we rely on support from our readers.

||   SUBSCRIBE    ||   GIVE A GIFT   ||   DONATE   ||
Independent. Nonprofit. Subscriber-supported.




Issue Footer

Personal tools