The Associated Press and UN Scientists Walk Back Beto O’Rourke and AOC’s Claim that the World Will End in 12 Years from Unchecked Global Warming
O’ROURKE, on global warming: “This is our final
chance. The scientists are absolutely unanimous on this. That we have no
more than 12 years to take incredibly bold action on this crisis.” —
remarks in Keokuk, Iowa, on Thursday.
THE FACTS: There is no scientific consensus, much less unanimity, that the planet only has 12 years to fix the problem.
report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,
drawn from the work of hundreds of scientists, uses 2030 as a prominent
benchmark because signatories to the Paris agreement have pledged
emission cuts by then. But it’s not a last chance, hard deadline for
action, as it has been interpreted in some quarters.
clear this up,” James Skea, co-chairman of the report and professor of
sustainable energy at Imperial College London, told The Associated
Press. The panel “did not say we have 12 years left to save the world.”
He added: “The hotter it gets, the worse it gets, but there is no cliff edge.”
has been a persistent source of confusion,” agreed Kristie L. Ebi,
director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the
University of Washington in Seattle. “The report never said we only have
12 years left.”
The report forecasts that global warming is
likely to increase by 0.5 degrees Celsius or 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit
between 2030 and 2052 “if it continues to increase at the current rate.”
The climate has already warmed by 1 degree C or 1.8 degrees F since the
Even holding warming to that level brings
harmful effects to the environment, the report said, but the impact
increases greatly if the increase in the global average temperature
approaches 2 degrees C or 3.6 degrees F.
“The earth does not reach
a cliff at 2030 or 2052,” Ebi told AP. But “keep adding greenhouse
gases to the atmosphere and temperatures will continue to rise.”
much as climate scientists see the necessity for broad and immediate
action to address global warming, they do not agree on an imminent point
of no return.
Cornell University climate scientist Natalie M.
Mahowald told the AP that a 12-year time frame is a “robust number for
trying to cut emissions” and to keep the increase in warming under
But she said sketching out unduly dire consequences is not “helpful to solving the problem.”