There is no denying man’s role in climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released the first section of its much-anticipated fifth report on climate change. The UN-created scientific body affirmed with more certainty than ever that human activities, from fossil fuel emissions to deforestation, are the moving forces of climate change.
The IPCC’s findings are clear:
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”
Perhaps the most frightening finding of the report is the 30 year carbon budget. Basically, after 30 more years of carbon emissions, temperatures will rise enough to initiate the self-perpetuating feedback loop, at which point climate change will spiral out of our hands.
The scientific consensus behind the IPCC’s findings reflects the irrationality of climate change-deniers today. Each IPCC report declares a higher level of certainty than the previous; the IPCC is now 95% certain that humans are causing climate change, up from 90% in 2007, the date of the last report.
In science, 95% is the closest we may come to perfect consensus. It is no longer excusable to justify inaction on climate change by claiming scientific debate.
The next step is taking action to address climate change – that is the true challenge. Even though most climate scientists and advocates have known for decades that humans are responsible the carbon pollution driving climate change we have struggled as a nation to take focused action to reduce that carbon threat. However, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) has been making progress, and has led the way on bringing renewable energy to cities and communities across the West in environmentally responsible ways. WRA’s work has helped Colorado transition away from dirty sources of electricity, by helping to craft legislation such as the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act and Senate Bill 252, which expands access to renewable energy. These are important models that other states can follow.