Child activist Greta Thunberg gave a speech at the UN today in which she angrily criticized adults who aren’t doing enough to prevent climate change. The first part of her speech, in which she dramatically rebuked listeners for ruining her childhood is getting a lot of attention on social media but in the latter half, she suggested the Green New Deal wasn’t quite good enough.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Thunberg said. She continued, “Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words…We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.” She went on to say that she’s tempted to think adults are “evil” because it’s the only explanation for why they haven’t done something more drastic despite knowing they should. Of course, all of these lines get applause at the UN.
But at least as newsworthy as Thunberg’s emotional statement was her assessment of how long we have to address the problem. “The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in ten years only gives us a 50 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.” She added, “A fifty percent risk is simply not acceptable to us, we who have to live with the consequences.”
Thunberg didn’t mention the Green New Deal, which calls for decarbonizing the economy in 10 years, but it seems clear she doesn’t think even that is sufficient. In fact, she says we only have 8 1/2 years to do the impossible. “To have a 67 percent chance of staying below a 1.5 Celcius global temperature rise, the best odds given by the IPCC, the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on January 1, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons…With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than 8 1/2 years.”
Back in January, AOC said, “Millenials and Gen Z and all these folks that came after us are looking up and we’re like ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it?’” She later claimed her reference to having 12 years to save the world was “dry humor” saying, “you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.” But clearly, for Greta Thunberg, it is literal.
AOC was right to back away from her “world is going to end” statement because it’s not supported by the IPCC. The worst-case scenario looked at by the IPCC did involve a 12-year window but it did not suggest the world would end if that deadline wasn’t met. From Reason:
According the report: “Under the no-policy baseline scenario, temperature rises by 3.66°C by 2100, resulting in a global gross domestic product (GDP) loss of 2.6%,” as opposed to 0.3 percent under the 1.5°C scenario and 0.5 percent under the 2°C scenario. In the baseline 3.66°C projection, the estimate of future GDP losses ranged from a low of 0.5 percent to a high of 8.2 percent. In other words, if humanity does nothing whatsoever to abate greenhouse gas emissions, the worst-case scenario is that global GDP in 2100 would be 8.2 percent lower than it would otherwise be.
Granted an 8.2 percent decline in GDP by 2100 would be bad news, but eradicating fossil fuels in the next 8 1/2 years would also do significant damage to the world’s economy. Greta Thunberg and her adult handlers don’t seem concerned about that. They are making AOC sound like a moderate by comparison.
Update: Looks like Greta was overshadowed a bit by Trump.
Greta Thunberg watched quietly as the U.S. President Donald Trump stole the show at the United Nations General Assembly, while the highly anticipated Climate Summit was taking place. https://t.co/5ig2mymjRw pic.twitter.com/7P9RR242Mm
— euronews (@euronews) September 23, 2019