Our Best Chance to Slow Global Warming Comes in the Next Nine Years

The events of the past few days are shocking in their novelty—the glory of seeing the first Black Democrat ever elected to the Senate from the South, the shame of seeing a President incite a mob to storm the Capitol. Who knows what drama will come next, except for one constant: the unrelenting rise in the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and with them the disruption of the earth’s physical systems. As this new year dawns, we’re precisely halfway through the six-decade cycle that could delineate the crucial years of the climate crisis. Global warming has been a public problem since only about 1990. 2050 has now emerged as the consensus target for many countries to go carbon-neutral. The elements are now in place for truly rapid action, but success will require going far faster than economics alone can push us, and far faster than politicians will find comfortable. 

By Bill McKibben. The New Yorker. January 7, 2021.

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