What Does ’12 Years To Save the Planet’ Really Mean?

Written by on January 23, 2019 in Environment, Environmental Hazards with 0 Comments

By Sami Grover | treehugger.com

It's a number that's been thrown around a lot recently. There's a danger it will be misunderstood.

When I wrote about a report suggesting the pace of decarbonization needs to treble, I also mentioned the recent IPCC report which has garnered various versions of the following headline:

“We have 12 years to save the planet.”

This phrase, or something like it, has been bandied about by politicians, journalists and activists alike. And in many ways it's a useful framing that drives home the urgency of the situation we face. There is also, however, a strong danger (nay, certainty) that it will be misunderstood and/or misrepresented. So let's first cover what it doesn't mean:

1) It does not mean that we have 12 years before we have to act.
2) It does not mean that we have 12 years to completely decarbonize.
3) And it does not mean that the fight is over if we fail to reach our target in 12 years.

It was misreadings like this that lead to some fun fireworks on twitter last night, in which famed climate scientist Michael E. Mann dived into the fray to defend Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from accusations of alarmism:

What the 12 year figure in the IPCC report does refer to is that, if we are going to have a reasonable chance of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees, we have just over a decade to cut global emissions some 45% based on 2010 levels. We then have another two decades (until 2050) to reach zero net emissions.

Read the rest of the article at treehugger.com…

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