Editorial: Is the Earth doomed?

By The Easterner , Editoral Board

Twelve years. That is how long the global community has to reduce emission rates by 40 to 50 percent in order to stop the irreversible effects of climate change, according to a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published Oct. 6.

The IPCC is made up of over 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries.

“Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0 degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels […] Global warming is ‘likely’ to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”

An overwhelming majority of the countries around the world, including the U.S., adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015. The main goal of the agreement was to respond to the threat of climate change by limiting the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

1.5 degrees Celsius is the scientific communities consensus on what is considered to be the tipping point of global temperatures, the effects of which would be irreversible.

Climate change is a result of the greenhouse effect. This occurs when gases are trapped inside our atmosphere and act as a blanket, not allowing heat to leave the Earth.

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” the IPCC said.

As the net global temperature rises, the effects on the environment are drastic. Regionally, the environmental changes will vary but will still be damaging.

“Taken as a whole,” the IPCC said, “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”

We will see more droughts, higher sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns, stronger hurricanes and higher temperatures throughout the year.

All of this is guaranteed to change our current agricultural systems and endanger communities around the world. Developing countries and coastal cities are especially at risk.

From 1990 to 2010 alone, net gas emissions have increased over 40 percent according to a report from the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2014. This is due to the growing number of automobiles and mass production of agriculture in recent decades.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide.

That’s more than the whole transportation sector.

On NASA’s global climate change website, since 1880 the global temperature has risen from negative 0.19 degrees Celsius to 0.9 degrees Celsius in 2017.

It’s been over a year since the Trump Administration and the U.S. has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, but global and regional attempts to combat climate change have not slowed down.

While sustainability is not at the forefront of EWU’s issues, by becoming a signatory to the American College and Presidents Climate Commitment, EWU took a big step toward its obligation of reducing emissions.

In the late nineties, EWU implemented a campus-wide Lighting System Retrofit, according to the 2012 Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Report. These changes consisted of replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and standard magnetic ballast fluorescent fixtures with energy efficient T8 lamps.

These improvements resulted in saving roughly $365,540 in energy costs and $281,461 in operational costs each year.

Currently, the city of Cheney does not offer a residential recycling service but does have the Cheney Recycling Center located at 100 Anderson road.

The city of Cheney is investigating if a residential recycling service is something that the community is interested in.

“We’re actually going to do a survey to see if that would be something that a good majority of the citizens would want,” Cheney Mayor Chris Grover said in a phone interview. “We just haven’t ever initiated that program here in Cheney.”

There has been discussion at City Committee meetings to see if that’s something the city can provide and whether that’s something the citizens actually desire.

The special report from the IPCC concluded that governments around the world must take, “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” in order to avoid the damaging effects of climate change.

With carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures rising steadily since the Industrial Revolution, it will take a worldwide effort to reverse the effects of climate change.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the effects of climate change and how to reduce their carbon footprint visit www.350.org.

The Cheney Recycling Center is open to the public for the drop-off of recyclable materials Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.