The EPA found there is only a 1% chance of avoiding the increasing incidence of climate-caused catastrophes like floods, droughts and sea level rise without passage of this year’s American Power Act (APA) to place a cap on carbon emissions and then lower the pollution permittted each year.
This week the EPA released its findings on the environmental impact of the legislation: a 75% chance of a livable climate with passage of APA, only a 1% chance without it. Armageddon that is preventable, by our actions.
Yet, despite these truly dire findings for the real cost to us of inaction, news stories covered the estimate of the financial impact if we do act (20 – 40 cents a day or less than a postage stamp) but completely omitted any mention of the only 1% chance at a future in which to spend pennies, if we don’t act.
A 99% chance of catastrophe without legislation that is under threat of filibuster by the Senate GOP should be news to all US voters, including the increasing numbers of climate-related disaster victims, not just to readers of Wonkroom and the NRDC.
Especially when the odds are much better of keeping global average temperature rise below 2° C (or 3.6° F) if we pass climate legislation this year.
By contrast with the only 1% chance of a livable future climate with inaction, with action there is still a 75% chance that we can keep a livable climate for future humanity, despite our late start.
The climate effects of putting the American Power Act into place was modeled along with the commitments that the developed countries have made as a part of Kyoto, the Copenhagen Accord and at the most recent meeting of the Group of Eight to determine in detail the effects of global carbon reduction.
“Under the combined APA and the G8 international agreement assumptions, the probability of observed temperature changes in 2100 remaining below 2°C (or 3.6° F) is 75%, and the probability of observed temperature changes exceeding 4° C is negligible given climate sensitivity assumptions.”
If the US acts, that coupled with the proposed actions by other developed countries will prevent the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. If the US doesn’t act, concentrations of greenhouse gases will rise to 931 ppm carbon-dioxide-equivalent by 2100, with truly unimaginable results.
Because fossil-fueled opposition to climate policy has always used the excuse that China and India will negate any move to clean energy by the US, the EPA also specifically modeled the results of inaction by developing countries as well.
It found that even if China, India and other developing countries take the unlikely path of inaction until 2050, but then hold emissions constant, there is still an 11% chance of keeping temperature rise below 2° C, or 3.6° F.
Not as good as the remaining 75% chance if we all work together, but still, far better odds than the only 1% chance if the US fails to act to prevent a great increase in the severity and incidence of record-breaking and increasingly costly floods, droughts, heavy snowstorms and sea level rise.
How can this not be news?
Image: Flikr user American Red Cross