As April 22nd is Earth Day 2019, we at A.C.F thought we’d look back at the past year’s successes and failures in terms of everyones favourite villain, climate change.
#1: Bank’s Continue to Invest in Global Warming.
Fossil Fuel Energy, i.e., generating energy from burning coal, oil and gas. It’s considered the least eco-friendly form of energy. Only a few weeks ago, a report revealed that 33 global banks have provided $1.9 trillion USD to fossil fuel companies since 2015. Additionally, the amount of financial backing has increased in each of the past two years. For perspective, a trillion dollar bills laid end to end would reach the sun. This truly speaks volumes about the response to climate change by those in the highest positions of power.
#2: Alaskan Permafrost is Melting.
Permafrost refers to the frozen soil that covers the majority of Alaska’s, Canada’s, and Russia’s landmass. Because of rising temperatures as a result of climate change, the soil has begun to thaw for the first time in millennia. This releases methane, a greenhouse gas with 20 times the warming power of carbon dioxide. This triggers a vicious cycle that would rapidly accelerate global warming and therefore trigger more permafrost to thaw and therefore more methane to be released. New reports predict this tipping point is coming much sooner than expected. Emission levels are already surpassing projections previously made for the end of this century.
#3: National Climate Assessments Are Way Too Low.
The Fourth National Climate Assessment, the largest governmental report on the effects of climate change in the United States, was released in November of 2018. Many experts immediately criticized the report as it massively underestimates sea-level rise from the melting of polar ice sheets. The report projects sea level rise of only 3 feet in the next 80 years. Most other studies predict numbers closer to 9 feet. For reference, prehistoric sea level rise from ice sheet collapse can be as much as 10 to 20 feet per century. Currently, we’re warming the climate at a faster rate now than anything in prehistory. This report is only a continuation of the Trump administration denying the climate crisis the attention it deserves.
#4: Alternative Energy is Now The Cheapest Energy.
Alternative energy refers to renewable energy such as solar power and wind power. This type of energy has had a slow start, but Crucial steps have now been taken to lower costs substantially. Levelized and unsubsidized costs are now cheaper than the cheapest fracked gas. The US alone could reportedly save $78 billion USD if they made the full switch to alternative energy. Meanwhile, 2018 saw 40% of fossil fuel plants operating at a loss and 150 plants now scheduled to shut down completely by 2030.
#5: Carbon Dioxide Capturing is Looking Bright.
One of the most hopeful solutions to carbon emissions is carbon capturing. This refers to the process of capturing emitted carbon dioxide and either transporting it underground or transferring it into other products like fertilizer. This year, a company in Switzerland called ClimeWorks, became the first commercial CO2 capture plant to start running. The technology is still young, but innovations to expand the process are looking bright.