• June 21st, 2024
  • Friday, 08:52:55 PM

The World’s Climate Is in Our Hands

Photo: Courtesy Javier Sierra/Sierra Club World's climate in our hands.


In 30 years, history books will mention August 9, 2021 as a crucial date in the fight against the climate crisis.


That day, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a landmark science report that debunked once and for all any doubt or speculation about the severity or the origin of the existential crisis we all confront. Essentially, the report—the first of its class since 2013—concluded that human activity is changing the planet’s climate with unprecedented and irreversible consequences, which disproportionately impact low-income and communities of color, such as us Latinos.


Warning that it is “unequivocal” that the climate crisis is driven by humans, UN Secretary General António Guterres called the report “a code red for humanity.”


“If we combine forces now,” he added, “we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s climate report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success,” referring to the Climate Summit to be held in Glasgow in November.


The biggest obstacle in climate progress, the report warns, is the lack of political will.


The report—completed by 234 scientists and based on more than 14,000 studies—concluded that an increase in the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere this fast has not taken place in 66 million years, and added that the current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are the highest in 2 million years.


As a consequence, each of the last four decades has been warmer than the one before and the seven warmest years on record took place since 2014. Day after day, the climate crisis accelerates its pace and the severity of its consequences.


The report also concluded that:


-Globally, extreme heat waves now happen five times more often than before and this frequency is accelerating.


-Droughts that used to happen every 10 years now take place with 70 percent more frequency.


-The regularity and intensity of wildfires have increased, as we all can see in the Western US.


-The destructive potency of tropical cyclones and the intensity of their torrential rains have also increased.


The report recommends that in order to avoid the atmosphere entering into a catastrophic and irreversible vicious circle, the world must reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent in the next decade and invest in climate energy solutions to completely end climate pollution by 2050. It also adds that the fastest way to reduce atmospheric warming is by cutting down methane emissions.


The biggest obstacle in climate progress, the report warns, is the lack of political will. Since the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, we have witnessed how world governments have failed to meet their climate commitments and global greenhouse emissions have continued to climb.


That’s why Congress must act with courage and speed to transition to a 100% clean energy economy. It must pass an infrastructure bill focused on clean energy tax credits, ending fossil fuel subsidies, creating a Civilian Climate Corps, investing more in electric vehicles, making clean public transportation more accessible, retrofitting and electrifying our homes, schools and offices, and protecting and restoring our forests and wetlands.


At the end of the day, the terrible consequences of inaction or timid action are much more expensive than investing in a clean energy future of security and prosperity for all.


The world’s climate, along with the future of our species, is in our hands.


Javier Sierra

Javier Sierra is a Columnist with the Sierra Club. @javier_SC


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