How To Solve Global Warming Problem

Should they pay poorer countries to help cut emissions? (Oxfam East Africa/Wikimedia Commons) Even if the world cuts emissions drastically and stays below 2°C of warming, the IPCC notes, we've already locked in some amount of "irreversible" climate change, whose effects will "continue for centuries." That will mean changes in sea levels, rainfall patterns, extreme weather, and so on. Some examples: -- Africa faces an increased risk of crop failure due to increased heat and drought.Countries can partly offset these risks through things like better irrigation practices, more loans for small farmers, providing access to fertilizer and better farming practices, and creating "early-warning systems" against drought.

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We'd also likely have to pull some carbon-dioxide out of the atmosphere.

This task sounds extraordinarily difficult — and it is.

The IPCC calculates that annual greenhouse-gas emissions would have to start dropping each year — until they were 41 percent to 72 percent below 2010 levels by mid-century.

Then emissions would have to keep falling until humans were hardly putting any extra greenhouse gases by the end of the century.

For instance, some environmentalists are opposed to nuclear power.

But the IPCC estimates that the task of cutting emissions becomes between 4 and 18 percent more expensive if nations shuttered all their nuclear plants.

Right now, about 13 percent of the world's energy is "low-carbon" — a little bit of wind and solar power, some nuclear power plants, a bunch of hydroelectric dams.

Those technologies would need to continue to improve and expand dramatically. First, it's tough to rule out any particular technologies.

To avoid the worst outcomes, the world would need to act immediately and drastically, reducing emissions 41 to 72 percent below 2010 levels by mid-century.

We'd then need to keep cutting and possibly be taking carbon-dioxide back out of the atmosphere by 2100.


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