While the US rejoined the Paris climate agreement and president Joe Biden has signed new executive orders to address climate change, only two countries have met the goals so far and many scientists believe it’s too late.
Is the Paris climate agreement too little, too late?
The goal of the Paris climate agreement is to keep global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. However, many scientists believe these goals were too little, too late.
First of all, all the pledges of the Paris climate agreement are voluntary. Many critics say the commitments were not rigorous enough in the first place.
According to Climate Action Tracker, a collaborative analysis from independent science nonprofits, only Morocco and Gambia have made commitments compatible with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the New York Times reported. The analysis found that commitments made thus far by several of the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases, including China, Russia, Japan and the United States, are “highly insufficient” or “critically insufficient.”
Another thing to consider is that the Paris climate accord goal of “two degrees Celsius” (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) below preindustrial levels is somewhat arbitrary, a presumed target, given that it is unclear whether that temperature will keep the Earth’s climate safe or stable.
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated in a summary that even if the Paris Agreement targets are met, “we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a ‘Hothouse Earth’ pathway.”
Ice melt faster than anticipated, may release twice as much CO2 and methane
In 2019, Earth reached what was once considered a worst-case scenario for daily melt rates. These were predicted not to occur until 2060 to 2080. Instead, the daily melt rates of the Greenland ice sheet briefly hit the mark 39 years ahead of expectations.
other research has found that Earth’s rapidly fine permafrost could release double the amount of carbon dioxide and methane than previously believed. Even worse, additional recent research shows that some of the coldest arctic permafrost is thawing out some 70 years ahead of expectations.
Is this the new normal?
Many scientists believe the type of weather events were seen around the globe represent the new normal.
The year 2020 tied the record for the hottest year ever recorded, first set in 2016. In the past ten years, the last six years have been the warmest ever recorded since record-keeping began. The trend is moving towards warmer and warmer years. You might want to find the best deodorant for sweating because it doesn’t appear that things are going to be cooler anytime soon.
Natural disasters on the rise
But what has really set recent years apart is the number of disasters and the scope of their impact. Australia and the western United States saw unprecedented wildfires last year.
The Atlantic hurricane season saw storms form earlier than usual, and ended the season with a record-breaking 30 named storms, 12 of which made landfall in the US. The storms were devastating in Central America.