America is now under siege by climate change in ways that scientists have warned about for years. But there is a second part to their admonition: Decades of growing crisis are already locked into the global ecosystem and cannot be reversed. For this article, the Times spoke with two dozen climate experts, including scientists, economists, sociologists and policymakers, and their answers were by turns alarming, cynical and hopeful. The effects of climate change evident today are the results of choices that countries made decades ago to keep pumping heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates despite warnings from scientists about the price to be paid. But experts also made a point they say is often underappreciated: Even if we start radically slashing emissions today, it could be decades before those changes start to appreciably slow the rate at which Earth is warming. In the meantime, we’ll have to deal with effects that continue to worsen.
By John Branch and Brad Plumer. New York Times. September 22, 2020.