Running out of Time

According to Wall Street Journal Reporter Jason Bellini  time may be running out for us to deal with climate change.  Here is a transcript of his report:

“Negotiators from more than one hundred ninety countries gathered in Lima Peru for climate talks . They are trying to negotiate a way to avoid catastrophic climate change. What are the scenarios they are up against? They fall into three categories all interrelated. One, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere measured in parts per million , two, the billions of tons of global greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year .and three, the average global temperature of the planet.

Climate scientists are alarmed by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere , which are the primary drivers of recent climate change . Before the industrial age, CO2 levels averaged around 275 parts per million. This year that number surpassed 400 parts per million , the highest in recorded history Many scientists believe the concentrations haven’t been this high in millions of years and most say this is the main reason why global temperatures are on the rise.

The global average temperature is now above the pre industrial average by about .85 degrees Celsius. Global leaders in the 2009 Copenhagen accord agreed that it would be dangerous for global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius . The earth has warmed .85 degrees Celsius since 1880, so that leaves us around 1.2 degrees Celsius to go before crossing the a dangerous threshold , one that risks a degree of climate chaos, say experts, that would make a large part of the planet uninhabitable. What’s the plan to keep the rise at 2 degrees Celsius? In 2013, the International Panel on Climate Change agreed that, based on the fact that the carbon emitted stays in the atmosphere for centuries, humankinds’ total CO2 budget is one trillion tons of carbon. But emissions have risen so fast in recent years, that the world has already used up more than half that carbon budget. If emissions’ quantities continue to rise at projected rates, the rest of that budget will be fully spent in the next thirty years.

A UN report in November concluded that this can only be avoided if greenhouse gas emissions peak by around 2025 and then were cut by half by 2050, and further reduced to near zero by the end of the century. That means, according to University of Oxford’s trillionth ton calculator, the planet as a whole has to start reducing its emissions by 2.57% per year right now. A lot of those reductions would depend on two big players, China and the U S, which recently signed a deal. China’s agreed to cap its emissions growth in 2030, and the U S pledges to reduce emissions by up to 28% percent by 2025 . But according to analysis from MIT, if other countries follow the lead of the U S and China, the world would begin reducing its CO2 emissions, but not by half by 2050, and not to zero by the end of the century. Most experts say that, as things stand now, the goal of keeping temperature increases below two degrees centigrade is becoming harder and harder to reach. That’s the short answer.”