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How Much Time Do We Have?

A black-and-white stopwatch


#carbon budget #climate change #EN-Roads


Doug Fogelson

Scientists can estimate atmospheric absorption of emissions based on measurements of CO2 in gigatons, and predict or “budget” our temperature rise on the way to a 1.5-degree Celsius or higher increase. If emissions stay constant, “the budget would be expected to be used up less than eight years from now” (mcc-Berlin). It is helpful to have a proposed timeline; however, there are various factors that could speed up or slow the rate of warming, such as a global pandemic that actually did both.

The En-ROADS team at MIT have created a simulator that “tracks” and predicts scenarios in key sectors with real world data. Energy, transport, buildings and industry, land and food, each have system dynamics as modeled by the best available information (including policies).

Modern cultures have known about these issues for a long time and yet have not been able to collectively alter our course enough. Many practical strategies exist today to save, preserve, and remediate as much as we can on this incredible planet we call home. There are clear strategic opportunities in conserving earth’s “remaining intact terrestrial ecosystems.” As such, individuals and groups can act and advocate, influence good governance, facilitate the necessary changes to impact the fate of our planet. Check out the roadmap from Project Drawdown at the action link below to see the “how” of what is needed and their timeline.

Earth’s natural systems have an uncanny ability to rebound when restorative/regenerative practices are used (such as re-introducing apex predators, remediating, re-wilding, and reducing the harshest impacts). The biosphere- nature itself- has the ability and potential to sequester a lot more carbon too. So many ways to fix things exist and just need support.

One aspect that isn’t stated enough are the compounding benefits that come from improving systems ASAP. Exponential savings of greenhouse gas emissions reach far into the future, fighting for balance as things get close to a more devastating tipping point. The time to push for comprehensive action is now.

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  • According to MCC Berlin, global emissions dipped during the pandemic year of 2020.

    True Yes- by almost 2 billion tonnes. False Incorrect, it dipped by almost 2 billion tonnes.