Climate catastrophe by 2040? and the findings by the IIPC

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IIPC, for short) released a shocking (or maybe not so shocking) special report detailing the findings that if more is not done about global climate change–and soon–there will most likely be disastrous results in the very near future. Previous reports by the IIPC concluded that a global increase in temperature of 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels could result in catastrophic effects, but this most recent report found that catastrophe will occur at the even lower threshold of 1.5º Celsius, a number that the scientists on the IIPC predict that we will reach in just over twenty years. Alarmingly, attempts to stop the average global temperature from rising above 1.5º Celsius will be next to impossible. According to an IIPC press-release, “limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” One idea, reiterated by Coral Davenport in her New York Times article “Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040”, would be to apply a large tax on carbon dioxide emission. Though fixes like this are technically possible, these changes would require political action and cooperation at a scale perhaps never seen before in the US and in many other countries, as they would negatively impact the global economy–though not nearly as significantly as a 1.5ºC increase in global temperature would.

Historically, climate change wasn’t discussed nearly as much as it has been in more recent years, especially by the mainstream, but that’s not to say that it’s an entirely new field of study. Discoveries related to climate science date back at least to 1861, when influential physicist of the day John Tyndall, after experimenting with atmospheric gases and manner by which they absorb heat, “announced […] that any changes to the constitution of the atmosphere ‘would produce great effects on the terrestrial rays and produce corresponding changes of  climate'” (Reidy 13). Examples like this provide evidence against the claim that climate science is still in it’s infancy, and that it in fact should be taken more seriously than many wish to.