Bevis Longstreth Former SEC Commissioner
1. Background. Rising temperatures around the globe are a reality, and so too is the primary cause: Energy-related CO2 emissions caused by human-beings. Long term energy analysis by the highly respected International Energy Agency (IEA) shows the world traveling down an unsustainable track. Very unsustainable. In 2012, CO2 emissions grew by 1.4 percent to a record high. Looking ahead, in its ‘business as usual’ scenario, the IEA shows energy-related CO2 emissions growing 1/3rd by 2035 and doubling by 2050, while global temperatures increase by up to 5.3 degrees Centigrade to 2100.
Recent disasters around the globe illustrate the growing problem with a warming planet: rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, more droughts, floods and heat waves, all adversely affecting ecosystems, food production and water resources. All costing immense sums of money. Consider, e. g., Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina; the wild fires and colossal floods in Colorado; the die-off of pine trees across the Rocky Mountains; the historic floods across the Midwest; deepening droughts in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma; and record heat waves in Alaska.
Unless large restrictions on carbon emissions are established around the globe, but particularly in the world’s two top emitters, China and the US, scientists predict ocean level rises of three to six feet in this century, triggering massive evacuations. What’s worse, we know scientists systematically understate the case -repeatedly discovering the globe’s climate system is more, not less, sensitive to man-made assault, whose impacts are being experienced at ever-increasing rates.