For instance, you cite a recent study showing that we could avoid 150 million excess deaths from air pollution by end of century if we could limit warming to 1.5 degrees or hold warming at 2 degrees without relying on negative emissions. Well, on the path that we’re on now, there are some experts who believe we’ll get there as soon as 2030.
I think that’s probably a little fast, I think 2050 is probably a safer assumption.
The UN says we’re on track to get to about 4 degrees or 4.3 degrees of warming by the end of the century if we continue as we are.
I don’t think that we’ll get there, this century at least.
I think that we’ll take enough action to avert that.
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But I think it’s really important to know what it would mean to land there, because that is a much more reasonable anchor for our expectations.Now, there are countries in the world that are going to, at least in the short term, benefit slightly from global warming. Russia, Canada, and parts of Scandinavia are likely to see a little bit of benefit from warming, because slightly a warmer climate means greater economic productivity and higher agricultural yields.But where we’re headed, we’re likely to even pass those optimal levels for those countries.But as Vox’s David Roberts explained at the time, those criticisms were mostly misplaced.Wallace-Wells isn’t counseling despair or saying all is lost; he’s merely laying out the alarming facts of what is likely to happen if we don’t radically change course.Our best-case scenario is basically one in which we lose the equivalent of 25 Holocausts — and that’s just from air pollution alone.I often hear people say climate change is about “saving the planet,” but that seems utterly misguided to me — the planet will be fine, we will not be.If we continue on the track we’re on now, in terms of emissions, and we just take the wildfire example, conventional wisdom says that by the end of the century we could be seeing roughly 64 times as much land burned every year as we saw in 2018, a year that felt completely unprecedented and inflicted unimaginable damage in California.And we see trajectories like this in basically every area of potential climate impact — from impact on agricultural yields, to public health issues, to the relationship between climate change and economic growth, climate change and conflict.I felt that even if climate change unfolded quite rapidly, those impacts would be felt far away from where I lived, and the way I lived.I think, especially with the extreme weather that we’re seeing over the last couple of years, we’re all beginning to relearn the fact that we live within nature, and in fact all of our lives are governed by its forces.