We're standing on a cliff. If we don't act fast to reduce our carbon emissions, we could see extreme temperature rises over this century. The Paris Agreement sets a limit of around 3 degrees Fahrenheit of warming. Any more risks severe climate change effects, like flooding and droughts.
So how long do we have until that 3 degree warming threshold is reached? Well it all depends on how much carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere, but at our current emissions rate we have until 2021. At that point, we'll have used up the world's carbon budget and any more carbon dioxide we emit will send us over the limit.
Of course, quitting CO2 cold turkey is pretty much impossible. If we assume a more gradual decline in emissions, we have a bit longer. But that decline has to start happening soon. How soon? By 2020, .
Of course, the sooner we can begin reducing carbon emissions, the better because we'll have more before we need to hit zero, which means a gentler and more gradual decrease. For example, if we started right now, we'll have the next thirty years to eliminate our CO2.
On the flipside, the longer we wait the worse it'll be for everyone. If we miss our 2020 deadline, we'll have to get rid of all our CO2 producers almost immediately, which probably won't end well. It'll also increase the chances we fail to reach zero emissions and end up destroying the climate anyway.
So how do we start reducing emissions, and how do we reach zero? In many ways, we're already doing it. Countries are beginning to generate more of our electricity through renewable sources, and buying and driving electric cars also helps. But that's . We need to start tackling issues like building efficiency, land management, and even consider what food we eat.
That cliff is quickly approaching, and we've only got a few years to decide what to do about it. Do we plan well and have a smooth transition to a post-carbon future, ordo we realize what's about to happen at the last minute and destroy our economy trying to fix it?
We'll find out soon enough.