If we can reverse greenhouse emissions, we could diminish extinction risks by more than 70% and preserve our marine biodiversity. And since both land and ocean are co-dependent, particularly in global heat and oxygen levels, a change in one area will improve the other.
It’s clear from current data that we won’t be able to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement, which sought to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Past the 2°C means rapid heatwave and extinction events — past 4°C could lead to the widespread death of billions, past 6°C is irreversible catastrophe. But new evidence suggests that we may just avoid this curve and level off at 3°C — still unpleasant and full of natural disasters, but survivable (for us at least).
The rise in coal fossil fuel industries across the developed and developing worlds has levelled off or decreased in the last decade. Since 2015, three-quarters of planned coal plants have been cancelled, and 44 countries are now putting a stop to building them. But why the change?
While it’d be nice to think that environmental consciousness alone is driving the change, technological development and economic greed are the ones saving us. Electrical technologies are getting cheaper and more competitive, with wind three times and solar ten times more affordable than last decade. Technology itself is improving across the board in battery storage, electrical alternatives to transport and heating, and lab alternatives to meats. The global concern about environmental damage is making these technologies more marketable, while their energy efficiency and improved lifespan mean they can compete against other, less sustainable alternatives. All of which is dropping CO2 levels without decreasing production.
So, if we can’t lobby politicians for environmental reasons, how about economic ones?
Source: Kurzgesagt, Global Carbon Project
About the author - meet Earthan James McCulloch
James is a literary student and environmental enthusiast who likes thinking about the better futures we could have (and those we best avoid). When not playing with other people’s dogs or taking long, mindful walks, he’s usually found reading and writing, often at the local library. You can check him out on his blog for something a little different, where he talks about all things literary or otherwise.