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‘Buried’ Science Shows Fast Carbon Cuts Can Stabilize Temperatures in 3-4 Years

The following text is excerpted from an article by Mitchell Beer originally published in the Energy Mix. Read the full article here.

There’s still time for decisive actions that would stabilize global temperatures over a span of three or four years, rather than three or four decades, but only if countries move swiftly to bring greenhouse gas emissions to zero, two senior climate scientists said Thursday, during a webinar hosted by the Covering Climate Now (CCNow) news collaborative.

“The gist of this largely unknown science is that, contrary to long-held assumptions, large amounts of temperature rise are not necessarily locked into the Earth’s climate system,” said CCNow co-founder and executive director Mark Hertsgaard. “As soon as emissions are cut to zero, temperature rise can stop in as little as three years. Three years, not the 30 to 40 years that almost all of us as journalists thought was the scientific consensus.”

That means humanity “can still limit temperature rise to the 1.5°C target,” Hertsgaard added, “but only if we take strong action now.”

The new analysis matters, Hertsgaard added, because it shifts the public conversation on the climate emergency at three levels: psychology, politics, and policy.

“The psychology is that we can stop the temperature rise within three years once we zero out emissions, so that means we’re not necessarily doomed after all,” he said. “Yes, there’s a lot of stuff still locked in,” and there’s still a lot of work to do. “But if we lower emissions quickly, we can get there. We can avoid the worst.”

That shift in psychology makes it more obvious to more people that it’s worthwhile to march, vote, and organize for change, and “then the policies you can pursue become different,” he said. For practitioners of solutions journalism, “this is not cheerleading or optimism or saying ‘go do it’ and campaigning. It’s telling the whole story. It’s reporting on the problem, but also on what the solution is.”

Read the full article here.