Assuming that global warming is happening isn’t it too late to do anything about it?
It’s not too late but action needs to be taken today.
The levels of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere continue to increase relentlessly, largely as a result of humanity burning fossil fuels. Climate scientists tell us that we have a window of opportunity in the next few years to begin to cut back greenhouse gas emissions substantially to avoid temperature increases of over 2°C, with respect to pre-industrial times. Average global temperature increases higher than 2°C are likely to be dangerous and may even trigger runaway changes in climate.
If all governments, and particularly the governments of the major greenhouse gas emitters (China, USA, Russia, India and Japan and others), can be persuaded to take immediate and far-reaching action then humanity has a chance to avoid the worst effects of global warming. However a massive global response and a substantial investment of the world’s income each year will be required. Attempts so far to reach an effective intergovernmental agreement, through the Kyoto protocol and Conference of the Parties (COP) meetings, have proved to be very disappointing.
The UK government’s Stern Review (2006) stated ‘The benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs’. Stern estimated that if we start to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions immediately, to prevent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere exceeding a concentration equivalent to 500 parts per million of carbon dioxide, the annual cost would be only about 1% of global Gross Domestic Product by 2050 (Stern revised this estimate to 2% in June 2008). Stern makes it clear that the cost, both economic and in terms of human suffering, of doing nothing are likely to be far in excess of these estimates. Doing nothing is likely to plunge the world into an economic crisis far deeper and longer than that which began in 2008.