The internationally accepted authority on the climate crisis is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC includes scientists from 195 countries who do a systematic review of all relevant published literature to provide a comprehensive update on climate change, its effects and potential strategies.
In August, the physical science working group of the IPCC released its report, the sixth assessment since 1988. It will help guide decisions and policies set at the next international Climate Summit to be held in November in Glasgow, Scotland.
The lengthy assessment of more than 14,000 peer-reviewed studies gives irrefutable evidence that climate change is happening now, human activities are the unequivocal cause, it’s happening faster than expected, we have only about four years to take significant action, and we still have a choice.
Here are other points summarized in the report:
• Many changes due to past and future greenhouse-gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level;
• Things will get much worse if we continue on our present course. In the short term, droughts, fires, extreme heat, flooding and other climate impacts will continue to increase;
• Our priority must be to replace all use of fossil fuels for transportation, energy and agriculture, and to transition to a 100% renewable-based energy system;
• Change will require bold action at every level of government and with strong public support: we must immediately stop subsidizing the fossil-fuel industry and halt fracking, pipelines and other fossil-fuel infrastructure;
• Methane in particular is a key driver of climate chaos. It is the core component of natural gas, and as a greenhouse gas is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Cutting methane could be the single biggest and fastest strategy for slowing down warming;
• We need bold investments in the renewable-energy industry, research and development, and support for start-up companies, as well as providing training and employment opportunities;
• We need to ban factory farms, transition away from industrial agriculture and invest in training and development of regional regenerative agriculture;
• We must invest in making our water systems, housing and other infrastructure climate-resilient with net-zero emissions;
• If 10 to 30% of the population were to demonstrate commitment to low-carbon technologies, behaviors and lifestyles, new social norms would be established;
• We need massive investment to transform energy systems, transport, industry, land use and agriculture and housing, and to prepare for the acceleration effects of climate breakdown, not the death cult of conservative economics.
Presently, the single-most important opportunity the U.S. has for meaningful climate action is before our members of Congress in the form of the Reconciliation Bill. It is the most-significant legislation in decades, and would help transition workers from fossil-fuel jobs to green jobs, develop green infrastructure and fight the climate crisis.
President Biden has also asked Congress to include the cancellation of fossil-fuel subsidies, about $15 billion annually, into the Reconciliation Bill. In addition to fighting the climate crisis, the reconciliation package invests in health care, elder care, child care, education, food security and infrastructure that the American public strongly supports. Now is the time for bold leadership, not “moderate” inaction.
Laurel Brier is involved with the Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition. The KCAC meets via Zoom the third Monday of the month. Email email@example.com to join or for more information. Education forums are held the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., and on Sept. 8 will be on tourism and the environment. For more information go to the ZeroWasteKaua‘i FaceBook page or register at bit.ly/sustainabletourismkauai.