Assistant Managing Editor
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) just released a special report last week on climate change and the prospects for the planet’s condition at the end of the century.
The optimistic projections are assuming that humanity is able to keep the warming of the planet under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
According to The Atlantic, in order for the plan suggested in the report to work, the rate of humanity’s carbon emission into the air would need to fall immediately.
By 2030, the current carbon emissions would need to be halved.
The Obama administration’s former climate change plan would have only cut the United States’ emissions by a quarter of current rates.
Flying in the face of these necessary worldwide changes are 1600 coal-fired power plants that are scheduled to come online in the next two decades, primarily in China.
Policy in the United States under the Trump administration does not indicate a willingness to move toward the IPCC’s recommended changes. These recommended change are eliminating fossil fuels as a primary source of energy, using nuclear and other renewable energy sources solely by 2050.
As of now, coal fuels 40 percent of the world’s energy
A trip to the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) website shows the Trump administration’s stance. Not one trace of the recent UN report on the webpage, and a closer glance at the tabs on the front page show no mention of climate change.
The only mention of climate change found on the website is on another page, accessible only through searching “climate change” in the search box.
The brief article on rising temperatures across end with the sentence, “Not all of these regional trends are statistically significant.”
Then-businessman Donald Trump said in November 2012 that, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
If this belief persists without action, the IPCC contends that “mass ecological upheaval will occur and is already beginning to happen.”
Bill McKibben, a climate activist for the organization, 350.org and scholar in residence at Middlebury University in Vermont told a story of a close friend who went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef last year.
“She went to the reef and found the section she had been studying for the better part of 30 years was gone. She went to another section, found it dead,” McKibben said.“By the time she had risen to the surface, her mask was filled with tears.”
As of 2016, half of the reef was bleached to death.
The IPCC report says if the global temperature increase by two degrees Celsius, global fisheries will drop by 50 percent and 99 percent of the coral reefs around the world will die. Famine, drought, and climate refugees will become more and more prevalent as the world’s heat increases.
Another obstacle to the changes necessary are businesses who directly profit from the fossil fuel industry.
ESU junior Austin Pirl believed that “big companies are denying climate for economic purposes.”
His suspicions are confirmed by an April 2017 report by the Los Angeles Times showed that ExxonMobil’s scientists had been doing research on the effects of climate change as early as 1977.
The scientists believed they were doing the research “with the aim of enhancing the state of the world’s knowledge on the issues surrounding climate,” according to the Times’ report.
Instead of disseminating the information, the Times found ExxonMobil’s executives decided to begin a decades-long disinformation campaign, taking out advertisements in newspapers and magazines across the country, denying climate change science.
Another ESU student, senior David Beeuwsaert was more skeptical about humanity’s role in climate change.
“I believe climate change is real, but I don’t believe it is as dramatic as they [the media] makes it seem.”
To put the IPCC’s reports in perspective, if an ESU student is 21 years old now, they’ll be in their late 30s and early 40s when the climate-related events unfold.
Senior Aisha Dillard said, “It’s hard because I plan on having kids and my kids won’t have the world I grew up in.”
Dillard continued, “We’ve had an abnormal amount of rain and I keep telling my friends something strange is going on with the weather.”
According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the rainfall for our area year-to-date is 50 percent about the average rainfall.
Although the report states a bleak future if no action is taken, the IPCC does state, “if immediate action is taken to reverse the current trends, the worst of the projected cataclysms can be avoided.”
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