Not many people visit the preserve…It’s one huge chunk of beautiful land…[with] woods surrounding it all.
from The First Rule of Climate Club
written by Carry Firestone
G. P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House, 2022
Two weeks ago 198 nations met in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to discuss Climate Change. You might remember The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015. Or the Kyoto Protocol, its precursor.
As early as 1992, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognized the need to pay attention to our environment and made plans to slow the rate of change. The participating governments agreed “that mobilizing stronger and more ambitious climate action is urgently required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.” UNFCCC
Several countries on the global stage did not send their leaders: Argentina, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey, China, and Russia. Indonesia, one of the most vulnerable countries, sent its Vice-President.
The participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The goal was the target of the Paris Agreement.
Scientists say that allowing the global temperature to rise only 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times (1850-1900) will avert the worst calamities brought about by a warming earth. The United Nations established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 to provide a framework for measuring climate change. It defines terms like “pre-industrial” and standardizes tools to measure not only Earth’s overall temperature, but what progress is being made in carbon-emission reductions, or not, and how close we’re getting to the 1.5 degree threshold. As of 2017, Earth has warmed one degree.
Our Earth is large and multi-faceted. When climate scientists describe 1.5, glaciers and glacier-melt combine with equatorial deserts and tropical forests to provide an average. According to NASA, “the strongest warming is happening in the Arctic during its cool seasons, and in Earth’s mid-latitude regions during the warm season.” Some areas are more vulnerable than others. Some island-nations are already experiencing catastrophic conditions.
Even we in the United States are not immune to hurricanes, tornadoes, record snowfall, droughts, and wildfires.
At 1.5, NASA projects that 14% of Earth’s population will be exposed to heatwaves at least once every five years. Early this past September, 2022, the western US saw a massive heat dome that fueled wildfires, stressed the power grid, and caused death.
At 1.5, sea-levels will continue to rise, given the rate of glacial melt, although the rise will be slower if we reduce our carbon emissions. The inevitable increase in acidification of the oceans will be slower, too, if oceans absorb less carbon.
Maybe the best news for our shared world was the announcement of the new Loss and Damage Funding. It will provide money to vulnerable countries already experiencing climate catastrophes. Pledges totaling more than 230 million US Dollars were made to the Adaptation Fund. The Funding Committee is scheduled to meet in March, 2023, and a report will be considered at COP28 next year.
Known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, at least four to six trillion US Dollars per year ($4,000,000,000,000.00 - $6,000,000,000,000.00) are required. That’s a lot of money. Where it will come from is still being determined.
All countries have obligations to their citizens. All governments need to protect their own economies. All leaders need to balance the needs of the individual with society as a whole.
But the only way we citizens of the world can help stabilize our world is to convince our leaders to work together. COP27 is a step in the right direction.
-—be curious! (and show Mother Earth your love)