I've maintained for several years that it is already too late to avert significant climate change resulting from human activity — specifically our energy choices. We screwed around and did nothing for too long and now we (or our grandkids) are screwed. With apologies to Will Rogers, if you like the climate humanity evolved with, just wait a minute.
From Brad Plumer's Two Degrees. How the world failed on climate change:
The idea that the world can stay below 2°C looks increasingly delusional.
Consider: the Earth’s average temperature has already risen 0.8°C since the 19th century. And if you look at the current rapid rise in global greenhouse-gas emissions, we’re on pace to blow past the 2°C limit by mid-century — and hit 4°C or more by the end. That’s well above anything once deemed “dangerous.” Getting back on track for 2°C would, at this point, entail the sort of drastic emissions cuts usually associated with economic calamities, like the collapse of the Soviet Union or the 2008 financial crisis. And we’d have to repeat those cuts for decades.
Go read that article, look at the graph and ruminate on the consequences of trying to cut fossil fuel emissions as much, as fast, as would now be needed to stay below 2°C. And consider the consequences of “pushing the whole climate system outside the range we’ve adapted to.” That is “we” as in humanity and the ecosystem that provides us food, water and breathable air.
It didn't have to be this way. The United States could have led the world down a different — and safer! — energy path. We almost did.
Thirty-five years ago President Jimmy Carter did his best to put America on the track toward renewable energy sources instead of dino fuels. In honor of Earth Day 2014, American Family Voices released this “Conservation Rap” of Jimmy Carter laying out his ambitious energy conservation plans back in 1979. Had Carter's plan been implemented, our current climate crisis would be significantly more manageable. Carter wanted to create a solar bank that would enable America to obtain 20% of its energy consumption from solar by 2000. Unfortunately his successors abandoned these goals. In 2013, less than 1% of American energy consumption was derived from solar.
Of course Carter's plans were not implemented because Saint Ronnie Reagan was elected in 1980. He and his advisors set about reversing anything and everything Carter had done, whether it made sense or not, just because they could.
Reagan dismantled not only the solar panels Carter had installed on the White House roof, but every part of Carter's plan to reduce fossil fuel consumption. And in the decades since, the post-Reagan Republican Party has bull-headedly refused to acknowledge climate change even exists and routinely blocked any action to reduce emissions or move our society to renewable energy sources. Why? God only knows, but $$$$ probably enter into it. It can't be all about GOP ignorance.
At this point let's just hope that our stubborn reliance on burning dinosaur fuel doesn't turn people into the next dinosaurs.