Researchers want "carbon law" to save planet

Scientists say change is needed to save the planet.
Scientists say change is needed to save the planet.

   In a pointed article published today, an international team of scientists has called for legal efforts to radically diminish the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    Noting that long-term efforts to control carbon emissions can be trumped by "political short-termism," their argument -- A Roadmap for Rapid Decarbonization -- published in the journal Science, suggests harnessing carbon emissions in dramatic fashion: a law halving gross carbon dioxide emissions every decade. 
    During the past million years, Earth has swung from ice ages to warm periods, explains the article's lead author, Johan Rockström, professor of environmental science at Stockholm University and director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden, in a video message produced by the center.
    "It is only in the last 12,000 years when we left the last ice age that we enter a unique equilibrium of planet Earth --the Holocene, that has enabled the world to develop as we know it. It is not too cold and not too warm." 
     Now, he adds, "we have so much scientific evidence that we are pushing humanity out of this Goldilocks equilibrium."  [See the video message below.]
     In an effort to keep this from happening, the scientists promote aggressive investment in clean energy. 
     Between 2020 and 2030, there should be "no-brainer mitigation measures plus the first wave of smart and disruptive action,"  they say. By the end of the decade, coal would "exit the global energy mix," while cities like Copenhagen, Denmark, and Hamburg, Germany, would be fossil-fuel free. By 2040, under the authors' scenario, oil would be poised to vanish from the energy mix. 
     The scientists' plan is far-reaching. Building construction, for example, would be accomplished with "negative-emissions substances such as wood, stone and carbon fiber."
     But the authors also acknowledged that their call for radical change would be a hard sell in the current political climate. The Paris Agreement, an international climate mitigation pact to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, can be achieved, the scientists wrote. Even so, "alarming inconsistencies remain between science-based targets and national commitments." 
     During his confirmation hearing in January, Scott Pruitt, now administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was asked if he believes climate change is caused by carbon emissions. 
     "The climate is changing," Pruitt said, questioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont. "And human activity contributes to that in some manner."
     When Sanders pointed out that 97 percent of scientists writing articles in peer-reviewed journals believe that human activity is the fundamental reason that the climate is changing, Pruitt responded: "I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity's impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity contributes to it."
     During a CNBC interview earlier this month, Pruitt said he thought the impact of carbon dioxide was an unknown, and he did not agree  that carbon dioxide was a primary contributor to global warming.



      Global warming is already changing life      

      Summer to bring climate change consequences

      Climate change could be fast, irreversible 

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