The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed reductions in carbon emissions from electricity generation to protect our health today, as well as the longer term health of our children and grandchildren. It’s a positive step, with the goal of a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from power generation by 2030. Yet power generation accounts for only 40 percent of our carbon emissions. The reduction in overall carbon emissions is only 12 percent. We need to do much more.
The IPCC has recommended that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 percent by 2020 (not 2030), and up to 95 percent by 2050. And that is based on limiting warming by 3.6 Fahrenheit, which may be too much to avoid tipping points like melting glaciers. So the EPA proposal is a step in the right direction, but much more action is needed.
That is where the debate lies. Not whether climate change is happening because of our actions, but what are the likely futures? And what should we be doing to support the future we envision? Doing nothing is not an option. It will take a combination of political effort, technological innovation and cultural shifts. Whatever path is followed, there will be change and we will be challenged to adapt to this changing world.
Living within the ecological conditions of Earth is simply necessary if we want to live here for long. I think that we can figure out how to do that and live well too — all of us.