And yet the majority of us are not willing or able to face the fact that we are on a path to complete ecological collapse.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are at 415 parts per million– higher than ever in human history. We’re living in uncharted territory. We are already seeing the consequences – extreme hurricanes, devastating wildfires, rising seas, shrinking land mass, an extinction crisis. And it will only get worse. How much worse is up to us.
Humankind will have less land, less food, less water and more people on our crumbling planet. Yet, as we careen toward ecological disaster, we cannot seem to leave behind fossil fuels to save the planet and ourselves. Our leaders have failed us, taking a gradual approach to a problem that demands an emergency response.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, almost 200 countries pledged to work together to address the climate emergency. The agreement seeks to keep temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius or at least to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” above pre-industrial levels. To keep the warming under 1.5 degrees, global carbon emissions need to reach net zero by 2050.
While the progress made in Paris was a good start, it didn’t go nearly as far as needed to meaningfully address the climate emergency. Furthermore, no major industrial nation is on track to meet its commitments made in Paris and the Trump Administration has pledged to pull the United States out of the agreement completely (This decision is scheduled to take effect on November 4, 2020, one day after the next presidential election).
Our next big opportunity to accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement comes in December 2019 at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in Santiago, Chile. This moment calls for immense public pressure on our heads of state. Our best hope in solving the global climate crisis is an international agreement that draws all of the world’s nations together to act in unison. We must do better than we did in Paris.