Eric Holthaus: The era of ‘rapid’ climate change has begun

From Eric Holtaus reacting to the recent report from the IPCC on global climate change:

This report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the new gold-standard update to climate science, its first in eight years. And these statements, taken together, are the clearest statement of how dire the climate emergency has become, and the clearest call to action we’ve ever received on the existential crisis of our time.

Every single sentence of the summary report has been unanimously approved by representatives from every country on Earth. That makes this report a political document, one of the most important in history. It’s meant to directly inform negotiations about how to solve the climate emergency.

The report’s main takeaway, put in a single sentence directly quoted from the report’s press release: “Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”

That means “immediate, rapid, large-scale” change is what we MUST demand — there’s a vastly limited future for all of us if it doesn’t happen right away.

The most striking part of the report to me is its of use the word “rapid” prominently, which to me is a major change from past reports.

The era of rapid climate change has begun. Both a rapid escalation of consequences, and a rapid escalation of solutions. Time has run out for anything but radical change.

To me, the report is equal parts depressing and galvanizing. 

It will take several years, even in the best possible scenario, to see the positive effects of rapidly reductions in emissions. But that’s not so different from every other worthwhile investment we make — from going to school, to going to therapy, to building bike lanes, to forming communities of mutual aid. Every worthwhile thing takes time. And, if we believe this report, the next 20-30 years is the most important time of our whole lives.

Kate Marvel @DrKateMarvelThe IPCC report is coming out tomorrow. As a climate scientist, I’d like you to know: I don’t have hope. I have something better: certainty. We know exactly what’s causing climate change. We can absolutely 1) avoid the worst and 2) build a better world in the process.