The clock is ticking on manmade environmental catastrophes, according to a report by a U.N. agency, echoing two from the Trump administration, despite the president’s mockery of global warming.
A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this month maintains 12 years remain to mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases (gases trapped in the atmosphere, radiating heat). Otherwise, calamities could occur, possibly by 2040.
Ninety-one authors from 40 nations cited 6,000 references predicting the Earth’s temperature could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above 1880 pre-industrial levels — or possibly 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — by 2100.
Meanwhile, buried within a 500-page report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a statement that manmade, global warming exists, but is irreversible. So, why bother trying? It’s a justification for ending the Obama administration’s fuel-efficiency standards.
The report ominously predicts an increase of 3.5 degrees Celsius above the average temperature between 1986 and 2005. Factor in the 0.5-degree increase from 1880 to 1986, and that’s 4 degrees Celsius — 7 degrees Fahrenheit — by 2100.
Last November, the administration’s National Climate Assessment stated, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. … There is no convincing alternative explanation.”
It added, “When it comes to rapidly escalating levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, there is no climate analog for this century at any time in at least the last 50 million years.”
Here are some possible scenarios that might ensue:
Already 25 U.S. cities are coping with more coastal flooding, with sea levels predicted to rise additionally between one and four feet.
Warming between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius would be felt from the Dakotas to Texas and eastward. Above 2 degrees Celsius, rainfall and snow would increase from Ohio to Georgia causing greater flooding.
In a 4 degree Celsius scenario, the Southwest would be uninhabitable. The Colorado River would cease to be a major water source. More wildfires would occur.
The U.S. could lose roughly 1.2 percent of gross domestic product for every additional degree of warming.
About 50 million people would be impacted in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam by coastal flooding by 2040 if temperatures increase 2.7 degrees Celsius.
With a 3.6 degree Celsius increase, a mass evacuation of tropical areas is predicted — Africa, the Middle East, South Asian and Latin America. If the six great Asian river valleys become arid, two billion poor farmers are impacted.
The Pentagon, which takes global warming seriously, is developing strategies to deal with a destabilized global population and massive refugee migrations.
The IPCC has numerous recommendations, not all feasible:
Proposed carbon emissions taxes of $27,000 per ton by 2100 won’t pass muster in the U.S. because of higher energy bills. China, the European Union and California have carbon-pricing programs.
Electricity from renewables sources would need to increase in a decade from 24 percent to close to 50 or 60 percent.
Coal would have to be reduced to a third by 2030 and nearly phased out by 2050. Trump wants it to increase, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is weighing closing all German coal plants and the United Kingdom has maintained it will quit using coal by 2025.
Phase out vehicles using gas and diesel. Only 4 percent of all vehicles use renewable fuels. China, India and some European nations are considering ending sales of gas and diesel vehicles. California has a target of five million electric vehicles by 2025.
Buildings account for a third of global energy use and a quarter of greenhouse emissions. The aim is reducing demand by a third through retrofitting.
Deforestation is blamed for an estimated 15 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions. More trees need to be planted.
New technologies are essential. The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has supported development of flow batteries, more efficient semiconductors and other innovations. Although the administration tried to zero out its $353 million budget, Congress increased it.
The U.S. — second in emissions behind China — has reduced emissions.
“From 2005 to 2017, U.S. CO2-related emissions declined by 14 percent while global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 21 percent,” the State Department maintained, citing “new, affordable, and cleaner technologies to capitalize on our energy abundance.”
Left unsaid was that the Energy Information Administration attributes that to a shift away from coal.
Unfortunately, too often leaders are consumed with short-term costs when the IPCC cites long-term damage of $54 trillion if nothing is done. For comparison’s sake, the CIA valued the world economy at $78 trillion in 2014.
Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” That vision should embrace sustaining the planet. Making the Earth Inhabitable Again may not be an option in the not-too-distant future.