Twelve Years Left


The Atlantic

One of the numerous consequences of global warming include the death of coral reefs, including the bleached coral reef near the Great Barrier Reef pictured above.

Caitlyn Truong, Editor

In twelve years, the world is predicted to rely on self-driving cars, to have developed revolutionary medical technology, to reach a population of 8.5 billion, and to reach irreversible levels of climate change. According to a report released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), only twelve years remain to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5℃, beyond which “even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people,” according to the Guardian.


Scientists warn that failing to reverse this climate change will result in extreme weather, including heat waves and forest fires, as well as the loss of habitat for insects. It will also threaten ecosystems, heighten the risk for large scale singular events, reduce coral, limit crop yields, cause coastal flooding, and increase river flooding, according to the IPCC report.


These risks seem to not intimidate governments and world leaders, however, because President Donald Trump remains determined to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords. In 2016, the United Nations met in New York to discuss climate change, after which 185 countries signed an agreement to maintain global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C. President Trump has publicly made his intentions to withdraw from the agreement known. Perhaps the estimated $54 trillion in damages of the agriculture and natural ecosystems will be more compelling.


Hope should not completely be lost, however. According to energy policy expert Jim Skea, limiting global warming is “possible within the laws of chemistry and physics.” However, doing so would require “unprecedented changes,” including a 40 to 50 percent reduction in emissions in twelve years and a completely carbon-neutral world by 2050, according to the Smithsonian.


Responses to this ultimatum have primarily stemmed from users of social media, where headlines simply warning that only twelve years remain have become viral. It has prompted several environmental organizations to pledge donations of one dollar per one like on a post toward conservation causes. While it remains uncertain if these accounts are authentic or if the organizations uphold their promises, this strategy ultimately raises environmental awareness while allowing individuals to easily contribute.


Some, however, remain wary of the threatening twelve year ultimatum and believe that these deadlines may be more flexible than they appear. Nevertheless, these critics reinforce that “stopping climate change gets harder if we leave it later,” according to Forbes. In any case, Sarah Mayans (11) firmly believes that “we need to take action now before it’s too late.”


For ways to contribute to the efforts to reverse climate change and global warming, visit suggestions from National Geographic, NRDC, and BBC.