Now, a recent article by Petra Tschakert of Penn State University in University Park has also denounced the target as being “utterly inadequate” and wants to revise the target to 1.5° C. In an article published in the journal Climate Change Responses, she warns that the lower limit is necessary to protect coral reefs, prevent sea level rises and maintain the presence of ice during Arctic summers.
Tschakert is not the only expert who has warned that a decreased temperature increase target is necessary. In fact, during a recent meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, most of the panel’s members seemed to agree. However, whether or not this new goal is achievable remains to be seen. Indeed, some researchers already believe this goal is impossible as emissions have gone from bad to worse and will likely result in a 3° C temperature increase by 2100.
However, in a new book titled “Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet” by Gernot Wagner of the Environmental Defense Fund and Martin L. Weitzman at Harvard, the authors seem to suggest that there might be an alternative. In a proposal they call the Copenhagen Theory of Climate change, The New York Times reports the authors suggest “we should be asking people to volunteer to save our climate by taking small, individual actions.”
The motivation behind the name of their proposal (Copenhagen) refers to the ability of the Danish government to convince half of its residents to commute to work by bicycle each day. As The New York Times reports, “A half-century ago, the city’s inhabitants were becoming almost as reliant on cars as people anywhere else. But after the oil crisis of the 1970’s…many Copenhagen residents made a personal commitment to ride bicycles…out of moral principle, even if that was inconvenient for them.”
If people in other parts of the developed and developing world could be convinced to make such a commitment, this “polycentric approach for coping with climate change” could yield real results. But, as the Times warns, the world is “diverse and complicated” and in order to combat climate change and global warming, we will need to establish a global, “concrete framework” with consequences for those who choose not to play by the rules.
(Photo courtesy of Andreas Kambanis)