United Nations looking long-term: global solutions to global warming

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By Samuel Richter

Starting April 7, 2014, top government scientists and officials will begin meetings to discuss the U.N.’s new environmental policies and regulations to reduce green house gases and other harmful substances within the next several years. According to the data collected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average temperature of the world has risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1900.

At our current rates of consumption, over the next few decades the average temperature is estimated to have increased by over two degrees Celsius. This drastic change in temperature will have chaotic effects on the rest of our natural resources and other supplies.

The increase in greenhouse gases and the rise in average global temperature will have catastrophic effects if action isn’t taken soon. “The window is shutting very rapidly on the 2 degrees target,” said Head of the Stockholm Resilience Centre Johan Rockstrom, an expert on risks to the planet from heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising seas.

These effects will include decreases in supply for drinking water while greatly increasing its demand, which any economist can explain, will lead to greater costs for water and lower availability for everyone on Earth. Another of the scientists’ great concerns is that Greenland’s icecaps could soon melt, leading to many floods around the world.

One thing is very clear from all of these scientists’ findings, and that is that we as a species are running out of time to find solutions. So what are our options? Experts have determined that low-carbon sources of energy are our most sustainable options at the moment.

It said such low-carbon sources accounted for 17 percent of the planet’s total energy supply in 2010, and their share would have to triple — to 51 percent — or quadruple by 2050, according to most scenarios reviewed. This would displace high-polluting fossil fuels as the world’s main energy source by mid-century.

The process is relatively simple. One of the most efficient ways to implement low-carbon solutions is simply to plant more trees. Our only other real option is to begin developing technologies that will be able to cover and contain the greenhouse gases, but this option will be extremely costly and risky, as there is no promise that we will be able to develop the technology in time.

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