Of all of the reasons that climate change is a drag, perhaps the biggest is that the weather effects we currently see are the result of carbon dioxide pollution from decades ago. There’s a lag between when we pollute and when the climate gets warmer. So when we see things like Sandy, and consider how the superuberstorm could have been lessened, or the record temperatures in California (90-plus degrees in November!), we should probably be chastising our parents. (You know, for those of us who are young enough.)
And our grandkids may want to thank us for temperatures being an unbelievable 11 degrees warmer than they are today.
It will now be almost impossible to keep the increase in global average temperatures up to 2100 within the 2C target that scientists believe might avert dangerous and unpredictable climate change, according to a study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
An analysis of how fast the major world economies are reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels suggests that it may already be too late to stay within the 2C target of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it found.
To keep within the 2C target, the global economy would have to reach a “decarbonisation” rate of at least 5.1 per cent a year for the next 39 years. This has not happened since records began at the end of the Second World War, according to Leo Johnson, a PwC partner in sustainability and climate change.
Needless to say, such a reduction is never, ever going to happen, ever ever. It would basically take a Sandy on the coast of every major industrial power every two weeks, with the storms evolving the capacity for speech and saying, explicitly, “Hey, this is your fault,” for governments to actually consider that reduction.
Which, who knows? Way we’re going, anything is possible.