The Climate Clock: we haven’t got long left
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Image courtesy of climateclock.world
Like something from a Saw movie, New York City now bustles under the watchful glow of doomsday’s eye. A countdown clock that estimates 7 years and 100 days in the future the world will be a whole 1.51oC hotter. What does this mean?
Well if you’re new to environmentalism, you might be inclined to believe that 1.5oC is nothing to worry about. Some data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should help remedy that false assumption. Not long after the timer is up, ships will be able to sail directly over the North Pole in Arctic summers. This means the world’s air conditioning will have almost entirely disappeared. Gone. The sheer volume of cubic metres of ice that this refers to is quite incomprehensible, all of which will increase sea levels dramatically, decreasing habitable land mass and forcing mass migrations. Given how poorly Europe has dealt with the refugee crisis, you can safely assume that this single repercussion will plunge national politics into further crisis.
Pre-industrial temperatures currently sit at about 1oC of warming and already we are feeling the ramifications. The colour of ice caps has changed. This subtle change alone has catastrophic ramifications. A simple shift from white to grey means less sunlight is reflected of the ice cap and more is absorbed, leading to an increase in the rate at which they melt. At 1oC the world’s coral reefs will decrease by over half. The ocean’s greatest absorber of CO2 just halves. In other words, 71% of the world’s surface is not able to perform one of its most important functions as easily.
The ‘good’ news is that only at 2oC is climate change completely irreversible. The bad news is that with another 1.5oC we lose, or cripple, all of the Earth’s best natural defence mechanisms.
This clock is our lifeline. The world’s leaders and global conglomerates have been given the facts. They know full well what’s at stake, and yet we are all still plummeting towards man-made disaster.
Plain and simple, this tells you just how short our window of opportunity is. Before this clock is up, the UK will only have one more election. One more. In that time frame, the elected PM will have three years tops to enact change that will undo an entire century of post-industrial CO2 emissions. The time for environmentally-conscious leaders has passed. We must demand environmentally-centric leaders. We must demand environmentally-centric businesses. And we must hold all institutions capable of making an impact accountable until we achieve carbon-neutrality.
Most importantly, we MUST shift our own attitudes. No act is too small when it comes to environmentalism. Any and every time we bring environmental consciousness into our daily lives we help solve the problem. This problem is not ‘too big’ to be our responsibility to help solve, we contribute to it every day and it is our duty to act to combat it.
One problem with this is recognising what constitutes a politician posing as environmentally-conscious and one that generally cares. Don’t fret, there is an elegant solution to this. A politician can only be conscious of the environment if they are trying to shift the economic viability of sustainable energy.
The single most effective policy to bring about this desired shift: a carbon tax. Not carbon permits. Not carbon passes. A simple charge per metric tonne of CO2 emissions applicable only to businesses over a certain size threshold, as to mitigate impact on small businesses.
Demand a carbon tax! Demand MPs who care! Demand a PM who cares! Care yourself! The clock is ticking; we must act before our time is up.