We Have Just 12 Years to Avoid Climate Change Disaster

According to some of the world’s leading scientists, we have a little over a decade to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5ºC. Even half a degree beyond that would bring a huge increase in extreme weather conditions.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its report, which was commissioned at the Paris climate talks in 2016. 

The Guardian reports:

The authors of the report, “say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5ºC and 2ºC.

The half-degree difference could also prevent corals from being completely eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, according to the 1.5ºC study.”

So that’s the good news: It’s possible to limit climate change to a maximum increase of 1.5ºC. We can do it.

The bad news is that drastic action must take place before 2030 to make sure that we do not exceed the 1.5ºC increase.

“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” explained Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilizes  people and dents the mood of complacency.”

The Guardian adds:

The greatest difference would be to nature. Insects, which are vital for pollination of crops, and plants are almost twice as likely to lose half their habitat at 2ºC compared with 1.5ºC. Corals would be 99 percent lost at the higher of the two temperatures, but more than 10 percent have a chance of surviving if the lower target is reached.

Our planet is in danger and we have a scant 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe. This is absolutely terrifying for most of us — but not for Trump.

The IPCC report warned of floods, drought, extreme heat and increased poverty if the world does not take action to address climate change. “Unprecedented changes” are needed to avert the dire impacts if the world warms beyond another 1.5ºC.

But here’s Trump’s response to the report:

It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it…Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren’t so good. But I will be looking at it, absolutely.

In other words, he doesn’t give a damn because he’s a climate change denier, and that gives him the freedom to support his fossil fuel buddies.

But let’s ignore Trump and figure what we need to do to avoid catastrophic climate change. The challenges are huge but here are a few ideas.

Collective Action

Although individual actions are important, the greatest impact will happen when people are united. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, suggests  that people need to come together to create movements that can “push for changes big enough to matter.”


Hold politicians accountable by supporting political parties that that put the environment at the center of their economic and social policies.


Wherever possible, walk or cycle. If not, use public transport if it is available. In the worst case scenario, if you must drive, consider an electric vehicle.

Solar Panels

If you live in an area where this makes sense, switch to renewable energy, install solar panels and save money! 

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

But actually reducing and reusing should be your first priorities. Think about what you really need and how to reuse it.

In the end, “One thing is sure” in light of the IPCC report, said Niklaus Hohne, a scientist who heads the New Climate Institute. “If we give up the goal and do not even try, we will certainly miss it a long way.”

Please don’t give up the goal!

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stilwell/Flickr


Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld4 months ago

What is so dumb with an accurate statement? Forests are not dying because of global warming. Rather, they are dying because they are being cut down at a much faster rate than they can replenish themselves. If we were to cease deforestation immediately, the forests would start to regenerate, growing at a faster rate than a century ago due to higher temperatures, rainfall, and atmospheric carbon dioxide. If we actively replant forests, they will regenerate even faster. Scientists estimate that this will alleviate between 25 and 50% of the warming. This is a much less drastic action that you propose, and has benefits far beyond just the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Why would you criticize such a solution?

Mark Donner
Mark Donner4 months ago

Blossfield: That's a dumb statement saying a "a warmer wetter world" as if it could be something desirable.There's nothing good about this accelerated global warming, forests are actually dying of disease and retreating because of global warming. A world of manmade global warming with spotty "wetness"means a world of devastation, of massive floods and droughts, wildfires, fierce storms, oceans dying from acidification and growing oxygen dead zones, corals and marine shelled animals including plankton the basis of the ocean's food chain gone, extinctions, global ice sheet melt and sea level rise. Fossil fuels and livestock and cars are part of this problem, and there must be drastic action to avoid a death world caused by manmade global warming.

Mark Donner
Mark Donner4 months ago

Plastic ocean with no corals.. thank evil humanity for that.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld4 months ago

Sure, with one change - as quickly as practical.

Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini4 months ago

Dan B
Well, let's agree that both routes should be followed and as quickly as possible. End of discussion?

Joan E
Joan E4 months ago

The sooner we kick out Trump, the better our planet's chance of survival. Speed it up, Mueller. Our planet can't wait much longer.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld4 months ago

No, it is not enough. But if implemented, would extend the 12 year, fossil-fuel only solution out to about 30. This would allow for more palatable and economic solutions.

john casablanca
john casablanca4 months ago

Not according to Comrade, Don, the Con or the REPUBLICAN PARTY.
John C./Houston, Tx.

Magdalen B
Magdalen B4 months ago

Some people will say "Oh twelve years? Not urgent then." and ignore it for eleven of them.

Chad A
Chad Anderson4 months ago

Thank you.