We Must Start Reducing Emissions

Daily News-Record, May 13, 2022
Letter to the Editor: Les Grady

Regarding Mona Charen’s column in the May 9 DN-R: I agree with Ms. Charen’s message that climate change “is not an extinction-level event” — for humans.

Nevertheless, the need for action is urgent.

Contrary to her statement, climate scientists know very well how much Earth will warm: Warming is directly proportional to the amount of fossil CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. This has allowed the establishment of carbon budgets. The remaining budget for a two-thirds chance of holding warming to 1.5°C “will likely be exhausted before 2030” at the current rate of CO2 emissions (IPCC, WGIII, 2022). The budget for a similar chance of holding warming to 2°C is larger, so it won’t be exhausted for 25 years at current emission rates. Either way, it is obvious that the sooner we start reducing emissions, the longer the time required to exhaust the budgets and the longer we have to solve the problem. The message — we must start now, even as we perfect our technologies.

So, who should be doing the cutting? Ms. Charen seems to be concerned about the current emission rates of China, India, etc. However, a look at history provides another perspective. From 1751 to 2020, China contributed 13.8% of the CO2 emitted and India 3.4%. The U.S., on the other hand contributed 24.4%, the largest of any nation. So rather than worrying about who will enforce current climate agreements, we should be more concerned about putting our own house in order, while improving our economy in the process.

Leslie Grady Jr.