Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University, calls for people to Stand Up and Be Counted on Climate Change. Warning us that time is running out to keep the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
The 2-degree limit is the last guardrail for a safe global climate. If temperatures shoot beyond 2 degrees, it's quite possible that natural feedbacks - melting ice sheets, drying rainforests, release of greenhouse gases from the melting tundra - could carry the world to runaway climate change. Such major climate disruptions would put sustainable development and the end of poverty out of reach. Even 2 degrees C is enough to create chaos in many parts of the world: higher sea levels, more floods, droughts, ocean acidification, heat waves and extreme storms.
The 2-degrees C limit was adopted by all governments in 2010. Since then emissions have kept on rising, and we are running out of time to stay within 2-degrees. More precisely, we are running out of our planet's carbon budget, that is, the amount of carbon we can burn and still remain below 2-degrees C. In just a few years we'll lose the remaining chance to keep the Earth's temperature below the 2-degree C limit.
Yet, we can still succeed -- if all major economies of the world begin to take strong and consistent actions to decarbonize their national energy systems in three main ways: shifting to low-carbon electricity; moving from fossil fuels to electricity in vehicles and buildings; and massive gains of energy efficiency. A fourth main global pillar is to shift from deforestation to reforestation and to reduce emissions from agriculture. These transformations are deep, but they are feasible and will not only protect the climate but also boost prosperity if we apply our efforts and ingenuity to the effort.
Please take a moment to take a stand for our planet and make your voice heard, and count.
We must take dramatic action to turn around out-of-control global warming, and we are not on track to accomplish this. Only a much more dramatic an unprecedented response to greatly reduce the burning or carbon emitting fossil fuels has the chance to prevent our globe from exceeding the benchmark of 2 C degree rise in planetary temperatures which is still going to be traumatic, however, experts hope staying below the benchmark will be enough to avoid setting off feedback loops, beyond our control that could be catastrophic.
Jeffrey Sachs reports that a group of leading scientists and climate experts have put together this statement for presentation to the United Nations Climate Summit on September.
This is our chance to make a difference kogs, Democrats, fellow Americans, fellow citizen of the world.
If not us who?
If not now when?
Thank you for supporting planetary sustainability now.
Here is a copy of the complete letter you can sign at It is Time to Act: 2 Degrees is the Limit
Message on Climate Change to World Leaders
Human-induced climate change is an issue beyond politics. It transcends parties, nations, and even generations. For the first time in human history, the very health of the planet, and therefore the bases for future economic development, the end of poverty, and human wellbeing, are in the balance. If we were facing an imminent threat from beyond Earth, there is no doubt that humanity would immediately unite in common cause. The fact that the threat comes from within – indeed from ourselves – and that it develops over an extended period of time does not alter the urgency of cooperation and decisive action.
The world has agreed to limit the mean temperature increase to less than 2-degrees Centigrade (2°C). Even a 2°C increase will carry us to dangerous and unprecedented conditions not seen on Earth during the entire period of human civilization. Various physical feedbacks – in the Arctic, the oceans, the rainforests, and the tundra – could multiply a 2°C temperature increase into vastly higher temperatures and climate disruption. For this reason many scientists and some countries advocate for 1.5°C or even stricter targets.
To give up on the 2°C limit, on the other hand, would be reckless and foolish. We would abandon our remaining chance to stay within a safe operating space for humanity and that of millions of other species. By holding the 2°C limit, we would retain the global option to adopt an even more stringent emission reduction limit in line with evolving scientific knowledge and technological capacities.
The 2°C limit, or an even stronger target, can be met through long-term national strategies and concerted global cooperation. All countries must commit to a deep decarbonization of their energy systems, shifting from high-carbon energy (coal, oil, and natural gas) to low-carbon energy of various kinds (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, known as CCS). Low-carbon electricity plus massive gains in energy efficiency and the electrification of vehicles, heating and cooling systems of commercial as well as residential buildings can lead to a dramatic reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions alongside a growing economy. Changes in lifestyle patterns and urban planning can make another important contribution. The many co-benefits of decarbonization with the deployment of sustainable energy, information and communication technologies will include cleaner air and water, enhanced biodiversity, and security of domestic renewable energy resources. Targeted efforts are also required to decarbonize key industries. Finally, countries need to curb greenhouse gas emissions resulting from agriculture, livestock, and land-use change, such as deforestation. They must also manage and restore ecosystems to ensure they can serve as a significant net sink for greenhouse gas emissions.
The technological transition during the first half of the 21st century is within reach, especially in light of massive advances in knowhow in recent years. In many parts of the world and in some contexts, solar and wind power are already at “grid parity.” Large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, carbon-capture and sequestration, next-generation nuclear power plants for those countries deploying nuclear power, and other low-carbon energy technologies are all within reach. They can be pushed to commercial readiness and large-scale deployment through concerted public and private programs of research, development, demonstration, and diffusion (RDD&D) on a global scale.
We have nearly exhausted the Earth’s carbon budget, which measures the cumulative emissions of CO2 that will likely keep the planet within the 2°C limit. Only through a drastic reduction of carbon emissions between now and 2050, en route to a zero-net emission economy in the second half of the century, can we meet the challenge of remaining below 2°C. Yet, deep decarbonization can be accomplished. As President John F. Kennedy said a half-century ago, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills …”
In our time, humanity again must choose, this time to save our planet from shortsightedness, greed, and apathy to avoid catastrophic climate change. This time too, we must organize and measure the best of our energies and skills to stay within 2°C. We call upon you, world leaders, to recognize the gravity of the situation, and to call upon all of us to rise to the occasion. We owe nothing less to ourselves, to future generations, and to Earth itself.