Climate change is arguably the greatest threat to national security, and therefore dealing with it must become a top concern for public safety.
Humanity has just three years left to accelerate action and drastically lower greenhouse gas emissions before risking a climate-safe world.
That’s according to a new commentary by a group of six experts, including former executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Their warning, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, notes there has been a leveling off of global CO2 emissions, yet “there is still a long way to go to decarbonize the world economy.” It references “blustery political winds,” such as President Donald Trump’s decision to ditch the historic Paris climate pact.
The group of experts outline some of the most worrying climate change impacts already underway:
After roughly 1°C of global warming driven by human activity, ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already losing mass at an increasing rate. Summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are dying from heat stress—entire ecosystems are starting to collapse. The social impacts of climate change from intensified heatwaves, droughts, and sea-level rise are inexorable and affect the poorest and weakest first.
The reason for the three-year deadline, the group writes, is that “should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable,” referring to 2.0 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) threshold of warming.
The year is thus a “climate turning point for greenhouse-gas emissions,” they write. Ensuring that 2016 becomes year of peak emissions, said the group, would put the world on a more reasonable 25-year path towards a zero emissions scenario.