Even if we start to fix climate change, the proof may not show up for 30 years
New findings put a brief emissions drop during the coronavirus pandemic into perspective.
The young climate activists clamoring today for rapid cuts to the world’s fossil fuel emissions could be well into their 30s or 40s before the impact of those changes becomes apparent, scientists said in a study published Tuesday.
As if curbing climate change wasn’t tough enough already, the new research finds that even if humans sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions now — cutting carbon dioxide, methane and other pollutants by at least 5 percent or more a year — it could still take decades before it’s clear those actions are beginning to slow the rate of the Earth’s warming.
In short, because of the massive amount of fossil fuels burned since the Industrial Revolution, and the complexity of the Earth’s climate, there’s no quick payoff from changing our fossil fuel habits, researchers found.
The results lend added perspective to the relatively minor drop in emissions that occurred due to worldwide shutdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic — a drop that appears unlikely to have much effect on the planet’s overall temperature.
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