• Convert all our end uses of energy to electricity use and generate that electricity using solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and renewable biofuels.
• Drastically reduce emissions of “super pollutants” such as methane and soot for which the needed technologies are mostly available.
• Remove half of the carbon dioxide pollution that has already accumulated in the air.
Saving ourselves from catastrophe driven by climate change: it boils down to scaling up these three steps— steps that humankind is already taking, albeit in far too tentative, piecemeal ways.
That’s the crux of the urgent Earth Day message sent by Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Dr Maria Neira, Climate and Atmospheric Scientist at UC San Diego Veerabhadran Ramanathan, and Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Vatican City Msgr Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo.
All three were co-authors of a report by 30 leading scientists warning of the “existential” threats to humanity posed by climate change.
“We did not choose such a term lightly or with a melodramatic intent to scare people into action,” they write.
“It was a simple statement of scientific opinion based on more than 35 years of data: there is a risk that society could experience catastrophic extreme weather and climate events much sooner than we had anticipated, in fact, within decades.”
In fact, new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” had to be created to account for the unprecedented range of threats posed to human beings by rapid global warming.
The risks include “exposing billions of people to lethal heat waves, vector-borne diseases and mental stress well beyond the capacity of our social and health-care infrastructure”, with health impacts and implications for all concerned.
The editorial poses the scenario and question: “We calculated the risk of catastrophe at 1-in-20. We asked then, would you board a plane that you know to have a 1-in-20 chance of crashing?”
“But for Earth Day, we have a hopeful message and solutions to make that question moot,” the researchers said, before going on to list the three technical steps.
Read the original editorial here: Three steps we need to take, starting this Earth Day, to avoid a climate catastrophe
The Window Is Closing to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming
Well below 2 °C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes
New Climate Risk Classification Created to Account for Potential “Existential” Threats
PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES: DECLARATION OF HEALTH (November 2017)
A warming world threatens the planet’s library of life