If you read or listen to almost any article about climate change, it’s likely the story refers in some way to the “2 degrees Celsius limit.” The story often mentions greatly increased risks if the climate exceeds 2°C and even “catastrophic” impacts to our world if we warm more than the target.
Recently a series of scientific papers have come out and stated that we have a 5 percent chance of limiting warming to 2°C, and only one chance in a hundred of keeping man-made global warming to 1.5°C, the aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference. Additionally, recent research shows that we may have already locked in 1.5°C of warming even if we magically reduced our carbon footprint to zero today.
And there’s an additional wrinkle: What is the correct baseline we should use? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) frequently references temperature increases relative to the second half of the 19th century, but the Paris Agreement states the temperature increases should be measured from “preindustrial” levels, or before 1850. Scientists have shown such a baseline effectively pushes us another 0.2°C closer to the upper limits.
Everything is all about risk. That’s why it makes no sense to do absolutely nothing, by anyone, to do anything about this particular situation. As a risk manager you assess risk. You evaluate the likelihood that the risk will happen. You set in place a mitigation for every risk and every follow-on risk and then you manage it. In the case of climate change there are plenty of assessments but they’re assaulted and no one except, apparently, the US Military is doing anything to mitigate those risks. It is utter insanity.