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“Water rushes into Venice’s city council chamber just minutes after the local government rejects measures to combat climate change. Wildfires consume eastern Australia as fire danger soars past “severe” and “extreme” to “catastrophic” in parts of New South Wales. Ice levels in the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska, hit record lows. England sees floods all across the country. And that’s just this week, as I write this.
Human-caused climate change, and the disasters it brings, are here. In fact, they’re just getting started. What will things be like in another decade, or century?
It depends on what we do. If our goal is to stop global warming, the best way is to cut carbon emissions now—to zero. The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Norway have passed laws requiring net zero emissions by 2050. Sweden is aiming at 2045. But the biggest emitters—China, the United States, and India—are dragging their heels. So to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels by 2100, it’s becoming more and more likely that we’ll need negative carbon emissions. That is, we’ll need to fix the air. We’ll need to suck more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than we put in.
This may seem like a laughably ambitious goal. Can we actually do it? Or is it just a fantasy? I want to give you a sense of what it would take. But first, here’s one reason this matters. Most people don’t realize that large negative carbon emissions are assumed in many of the more optimistic climate scenarios. Even some policymakers tasked with dealing with climate change don’t know this.”
JJ Editor's Picks
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"In the movie “10 Things I Hate About You,” one ditzy character turns to another and asks: “I know you can be overwhelmed and you can be underwhelmed. But can you ever just be whelmed?” Her friend responds, “I think you can in Europe.” That is..."
"OF COURSE, there’s a Crisis of Truth and, of course, we live in a “Post-Truth” society. Evidence of that Crisis is everywhere, extensively reported in the non-Fake-News media, read by Right-Thinking people. The White House floats the idea of..."
"Given that one in four children now grow up in one-parent homes and that 42% of marriages end in divorce you might expect prejudice against single parents to be a thing of the past. Yet a 2014 poll found that 75% of single parents had..."
"When education-reform activist Sarah Carpenter expressed skepticism about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to quadruple federal Title I funding for schools, Ms. Warren’s reply was remarkable. “Listen, I understand that,” the senator said backstage..."
"I’m not big on counterfactual historical musings. The hypothetical is tempting and tantalizing, but valueless. History happens but only just. Still, it happens. That events are not inevitable does not make them reversible. There is one exception..."
"Between salvos of Hamas rockets, Netanyahu shenanigans and Trump’s antics, you may have missed the really big news, an issue which will have lasting effects on the U.S.- Israel relationship: are the two states now nearer than ever to signing a..."
"A new short story looks at how artificial intelligence could support, and distort, faith... Each month, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and..."