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The rare spots of good news on climate change

The rare spots of good news on climate change

It looks increasingly clear that we'll at least sidestep the worst-case scenarios.

The deadly consequences of climate change only grew clearer this year, as record-shattering heat waves, floods, and wildfires killed thousands and strained the limits of our disaster responders.

In the closing days of 2021, scientists warned that the eastern ledge of a Florida-size glacier is about to snap off of Antarctica and US legislators found they may have flubbed their best chance in a decade to enact sweeping climate policies.

But amid these stark signs, there were also indications that momentum is beginning to build behind climate action. Indeed, there’s good reason now to believe that the world could at least sidestep the worst dangers of global warming.

Princeton energy researcher Jesse Jenkins accurately, and colorfully, pinpointed the weird moment we’ve arrived at in a recent tweet: “We’re no longer totally f$%@ed. But we’re also far from totally unf$@%*ed!”

To be sure, the limited progress isn’t nearly enough. We’ve taken far too long to begin making real changes. World events and politics could still slow or reverse the trends. And we can’t allow a tiny bit of progress in the face of a generational challenge to ease the pressures for greater action.

But it’s worth highlighting and reflecting on the advances the world has made, because it demonstrates that it can be done—and could provide a template for achieving more.

Momentum
So what are the signs of progress amid the climate gloom?

The grimmest scenarios that many fretted about just a few years ago look increasingly unlikely. That includes the 4 or 5 °C of warming this century that I and others previously highlighted as a possibility.

The UN climate panel’s earlier high-end emissions scenario, known as RCP 8.5, had found that global temperatures could rise more than 5 °C by 2100.


It looks increasingly clear that we'll at least sidestep the worst-case scenarios.
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Chinese (Simplified)DanishEnglishEstonianFilipinoFinnishFrenchGermanGreekHindiItalianLithuanianPortugueseRussianSpanish