UN Climate Change Conference 2014 - December in Lima
UN Climate Change Conference 2014 – December in Lima

It should come as no surprise that the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) doesn’t paint a rosy picture of a future earth, at least not at current rates of carbon dioxide emissions.

The latest IPCC report uses the word “risk” to describe what climate change is doing to every single species on the planet, even the rich ones. The word “risk” was chosen when it was deemed by some to be less “loaded” than the word “dangerous.” Scientists involved with the report don’t believe that “risk” is strong enough to motivate policy-makers, but could do nothing about the linguistic change. In slightly less than one month, at the COP 20 conference in Lima, Peru, will continue the conversation, hopefully in a bid to make some far-reaching agreements, in 2015, to address human impact on climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the report’s launch, in Copenhagen, “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.” On the one hand, scientists estimate that we would have to completely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from our lifestyle by the end of the century to avoid dangerous *cough* “risky” levels of global warming due to climate change. Of course, the real questions are “How can we get rid of carbon dioxide emissions?” and “How much will this cost?” because money is what makes the world go around.

First, amid all the climate change risks that the IPCC estimates that our kids and grandkids will encounter, scientists say that we have the knowledge and tools already at our disposal. Eliminating carbon dioxide from our lifestyle will require a massive shift to renewable energy, starting right now, as well as technology that could sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide to reduce concentrations. How much will all of this cost? According to the IPCC, just 0.06% of world GDP would be required to make the shift. So, why isnt’ this happening?

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