Is Net Zero enough?

On the 14 October 2022, The Guardian published an article on the Denman ice shelf in east Antarctica melting at a rate of 70.8 billion tonnes a year as warm oceanic water doesn't only affect the western part of Earth's icy continent, Australian scientists found.

To visualise the amount of water added each year from just one small area of Antarctica, we are talking about 70.8 trillion (70,800,000,000,000) litres of water - you would have to fill your bathtub holding the average 100 litres 708 billion times, which would take you 6.73 million years. To put that into context, to finish your job, you would have had to start running the water around 700,000 years before the first humanoids diverged from their closest relatives – the chimpanzees and bonobos. The entire glacier holds enough water to cause a sea level rise of 1.5 meters. Not only would the map of the world need redrawing, millions of people would be displaced – a catastrophe of unimaginable consequences would ensue. Just. One. Glacier.

Looking at the graph below, I realise: Net Zero isn’t enough to ‘cut it’. Atmospheric CO₂ has reached critical levels, and we arrived at that point before you and I were born – before 1950.

Source: Earth.Org

Climate scientist Douglas Fisher wrote for Scientific American’s Daily Climate:

“Some 800,000 years' worth of ice core records indicate that temperature rises did drive an increase in CO2 levels. But that was before humans started digging up huge quantities (of) fossil fuels and transferring all that sequestered carbon to the atmosphere.

“It is worth noting, however, that even in the past CO2 had an impact on temperatures, given its role as a greenhouse gas.

“It's also worth noting that ancient temperature and CO2-level changes happened over thousands of years. The Earth needed, for example, 5,000 years to bring atmospheric CO2 concentrations up 80 ppm after the last glacial period.

“With the onset of industrialization, the tables turned. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 levels almost 80 ppm in just 60 years. Now humans are the drivers of CO2 levels, not temperature.

“And what frightens climate scientists is that temperature hasn't caught up yet.”

If Douglas Fisher is right, temperatures will keep rising for an unforeseeable period of time – even if we reach Net Zero.

While we here at Climateq are aiming to remain politically neutral, we are passionate about the conservation of life and liveability on our planet. The energy crisis we are finding ourselves in is unprecedented. And if we can learn anything from it, it is that we are now at the point where we must start putting words into action: Investing as much capital as possible into the exploration and storage of renewable energy has to be at the top of any country’s agenda – in the best interest of our ecology as much as our economy.

Gérard Fabrice Guminski

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