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What Earth in 2050 could look like - Shannon Odell

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While we’re already feeling the devastating effects of human-caused climate change, governments continue to fall short on making and executing emissions pledges that would help thwart further warming. So, what will our world look like in the next 30 to 80 years, if we continue on the current path? Shannon Odell offers a glimpse at Earth's possible future.

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The Consequences of Inaction

If you're interested in visualizing the myriad possible outcomes of inaction on climate change, check out David Wallace-Wells article "The Uninhabitable Earth" or read the award-winning book.

If we fail to limit climate change, the world by 2100 could be markedly different from today, marked by devastating environmental and societal changes. Warming beyond the 1.5°C target could lead to more frequent and severe natural disasters, including heatwaves, droughts, and floods, affecting millions worldwide. Cities could face overwhelming challenges, from infrastructure damage due to extreme weather events to food and water shortages. The loss of biodiversity and the disappearance of ecosystems, such as coral reefs, would profoundly impact the natural world and human livelihoods, highlighting the urgent need for concerted global action to mitigate these risks.

Promising Solutions on the Horizon

Addressing the challenge of climate change requires a multifaceted approach, incorporating both technological innovations and policy reforms. Renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, offer viable alternatives to fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Advances in electric transportation, energy efficiency, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are also crucial. However, there is passionate debate about the role carbon capture plays in solving the climate crisis. Equally important are policies that promote sustainable land use, protect forests, and regulate industrial emissions. Investing in these solutions can significantly lower global emissions, steering us away from the worst impacts of climate change.

The Benefits of a Net Zero World

Achieving a net zero world, where the amount of greenhouse gases emitted is balanced by the amount removed from the atmosphere, presents numerous benefits. It would stabilize global temperatures, significantly reducing the risk of severe climate impacts. Health outcomes would improve as air and water quality are preserved, reducing the incidence of pollution-related diseases and extreme heat. Economically, transitioning to green technologies and sustainable practices could spur innovation, job creation, and economic growth, particularly in renewable energy sectors. Additionally, preserving natural ecosystems and biodiversity ensures our planet's resilience, safeguarding future generations' well-being.

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About Earth School

We can save the world. Speed and Scale shows us how to unlock a cleaner, healthier and safer future by laying out a roadmap that will get us to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. How’s it going to work? We need to electrify transportation, decarbonize the grid, fix food, protect nature, clean up industry and remove carbon. To learn how we’re going to do all that - and to learn how you can take action now - explore this page.

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