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George W. Kriebel Jr.: Corona and good climate news

Published: 5/22/2020 1:47:15 PM
Modified: 5/22/2020 1:47:03 PM

There have been two very hopeful observations in the Gazette recently.

First, that the total global carbon dioxide emissions for this year are expected to be 8% lower than last year, because of the reduced travel during the coronavirus. The United Nations says that the reduction in emissions will have to continue at that pace (8% per year) if we hope to keep total temperature increase to 1.5 C.

Clearly, taking off 8% a year becomes more difficult as emissions go down, although the absolute numbers in the 8% also become smaller.

There’s also news that this year, for the first time ever, renewables in the U.S. have produced more power than coal. That’s clearly related to coal use going down and renewable use going up, which is a great sign. It makes clear that these things are not only possible, but that we are actually doing it, however grudgingly.

I think to keep on doing it, we will have to transition from behaving differently out of fear that the coronavirus will kill us, to behaving differently because otherwise the climate will kill us.

George W. Kriebel Jr.

Northampton




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