Even if you can’t handle more bad news these days, you need to know about this. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-sponsored body, recently released its latest report on the global climate crisis. Its findings are not surprising for those who have been following climate science as closely as Acadia Center, but heart-stopping, nonetheless. In a nutshell: the climate crisis is not far off. It’s a currently occurring crisis, “unequivocally” caused by humans, and worsening with every year we delay aggressive action.
The changes in climate that we’ve already seen – multiple episodes of extreme heat, rain, snow, and flooding throughout the Northeast in 2021 alone – are just the beginning. Tipping points – events which, once they occur, create feedback loops that worsen climate change, are already happening. Just this week, other scientists announced that the Gulf Stream (the cross-Atlantic current of water from Florida to Europe) is weakening and may collapse entirely, driving up sea level rise in New England faster than anywhere else (and causing famine and disaster for Europe and Africa).
The IPCC report discusses tipping points which are predicted to come a decade sooner than the IPCC estimated only 3 years ago. In the 2015 Paris Agreement, 196 countries of the world set the goal of limiting global warming to below 2˚ Celsius higher than pre-industrial temperatures. This report concludes we’ve already crossed the 1˚ mark and may hit the 1.5˚ global mark by 2030.
What will it look like if we don’t act?
Think about what happens in your family in a typical decade: births, deaths, weddings, graduations. Life. But how might all that change if we don’t act? My children will be in high school in 2030. They will still be children. But the world is likely to look very different by then, let alone what it will be like when they are young adults or older adults, for the changes that have already been set in motion are irreversible for centuries.
But there is hope. Change is possible and doable. Both the IPCC report and Acadia Center analysis show that ending our use of fossil fuels will have an impact. The sooner, the better. The faster we reach at least net-zero CO2 emissions and rebuild carbon sinks, the sooner we can change the trajectory of the global climate crisis and begin to save not just future generations, but ourselves.
In the last year alone, Acadia Center has helped the states of the Northeast set mandatory climate targets, hold state agencies responsible for meeting those climate targets, empower energy efficiency programs to consider climate in planning for efficiency. In Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and ISO-NE, Acadia Center set their course for a clean energy future. Next up: ending incentives that promote new fossil fuel use and pressing Connecticut and Rhode Island to take on the climate crisis and the transportation crisis by passing legislation to advance transportation and climate justice through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).
What can you do?
Make your voice heard. Reach out to your civic leaders to take climate seriously now. If they made promises to address climate change, hold them to it. If they haven’t, demand that they do. Amplify the voices of youth and vulnerable communities who face the brunt of this crisis. Stop using fossil fuels. Keep recycling. Replace your old, inefficient appliances and cars with better, safer, electric ones. Weatherize your home and help others to weatherize theirs. Walk, cycle, take public transit instead of driving. Read more, talk about the climate crisis more. Use less… way less.
And, if you’re so inclined, donate to non-profits like Acadia Center who are taking on the systemic causes of the climate crisis and ensuring that we make this decade count. Because, if anything, this new report proves that now is when our work is needed the most.