Climate Change in 2019: Where Do We Stand?

A brief check-up on the biggest issue facing humanity.

Credit: Climate Nexus

I thought this would be a good time to do a brief summary of the big picture and where we stand today. Buckle up because it’s not pretty and I refuse to sugar-coat it.

Here’s where we stand in 2019:

  • “We are more sure that greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change than we are that smoking causes cancer.” – Kate Marvel, NASA
  • We’ve warmed the planet by 1°C (1.8°F) since the industrial revolution. That may not sound like much, but it’s a ton. It takes us out of the temperature range in which we built our civilization (as shown below).

The baseline for the above graphic is the average temperature from 1960 – 1991. (YA = Years ago). Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  • Government action has been inadequate. Leadership is lacking – many are still in the pockets of the fossil fuel powerhouses. Others are stuck in the mindset of playing by the old rules, doing what is “politically feasible” rather than what is scientifically necessary for our health, safety, and prosperity. It’s the same old song they’ve been singing since I was born.
  • As it stands, if all countries were to meet their current pledges under the Paris Agreement, the world would likely warm by 3°C. At least. A 3°C world would be unrecognizable to us – catastrophic for civilization.
  • BUT we’re not on track to meet our Paris goals. So we’re actually headed for 3.5°C – 4°C (6.3°F – 7.2°F) right now.
  • World Bank report said, “…there is also no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible…the projected 4°C of warming simply must not be allowed to occur.”
  • The IPCC (top climate scientists from around the world), which has historically underestimated climate change, came out with a report in October of 2018 saying that even 1.5°C of warming will be awful, but it’s still way better than 2°C of warming…implying that we should be shooting for 1.5°C instead.
  • That same report also told us that we must cut our emissions in half by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050 to have a chance at keeping global warming somewhat in check (limiting warming to 1.5°C).
  • BUT our emissions still haven’t even stopped going up yet. In 2018 we put more GHG emissions into the atmosphere than ever before.
  • 2018 is also in the record books for how hot it was. The 4 single hottest years on record have all happened in the last 4 years. The top 20 warmest on record have been in the last 22 years.

So, we’re almost guaranteed to have bad climate change. We’re already experiencing the very beginnings of it actually. But the window to stop the worst of it is rapidly closing before our eyes. We need to realize how serious this is and keep in mind that every little bit of warming that we can prevent DOES make a big difference for us, our kids, people around the world, and everyone who may come after us.

This isn’t a throw up our hands and give up kind of situation. We have a lot to fight for. We have a lot of work to do.

And we’re the last ones who can do it.

…perhaps we should add in a bit on addressing climate change into those new year resolutions if we haven’t already?

New years resolution for the human race: Peak our greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 and lay the groundwork to drastically reduce them every year after that.


If that sounds good to you, sign up for the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter and we’ll help you make that happen!

And despite the scientific reality of our situation being bleak, there are certainly many reasons for hope. The climate movement has serious momentum and we’ve come an incredibly long way in just the last year!



Read other content from the “Alarming” section or see all sections of the What on EARTH?! sustainability newsletter.

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