Oct 13, 2018

There's still hope for climate change

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

This week, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major new report on the feasibility of meeting a global warming target of 1.5°C, or 2.7°F, above preindustrial levels. It makes for sobering reading, and coverage of it was downright apocalyptic. (I'm as guilty as other reporters in focusing on the disturbing aspects.)

But, but but: There are other frameworks for climate change, including ones that focus on courage, resilience and opportunity. I asked three top climate scientists to comment on the new report in an email conversation. Here are some of their key points.

Reality check: Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech, said climate change is relevant to the here and now.

"What the 1.5°C report brings home is that the future is now. The choice is upon us," Hayhoe told me. "We don’t have all the Jetson-era technology we imagined we’d have when the chickens came home to roost. But the world is already changing."

"And yes, it is an opportunity — an opportunity to transform the very fabric of our society, from its current patterns of consumption that will soon exceed our planetary boundaries to one that is able to sustain our human civilization for millennia to come."
— Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University

The big question: Kate Marvel, a NASA climate scientist, discussed the need for facing climate change courageously, rather than getting depressed or scared.

"It makes no sense to give up now, even though the future seems very scary," Marvel said. She's unique in climate science for talking about how it feels to be studying this issue.

"It's OK to grieve over the things we've lost and will lose. But grief isn't the same as despair. We need to be brave enough to do the right thing."
— Kate Marvel, NASA

"Have you ever read a story where the hero decides not to go on the quest because it seems too hard?" she asked. "Of course not — we admire and respect those who have the courage to act, even without the guarantee of a happy ending."

Don't forget: Andrea Dutton, a scientist at the University of Florida, said it's important to remember that we all face a choice in determining our future.

"If we choose despair, then yes, that doom and gloom can be ours. But if instead, we find the courage to face our fears about the ways in which the future might be different, I am sure that we will be able to carve ourselves a new pathway to a better future."
— Andrea Dutton, University of Florida

Go deeper: Slaying the Climate Dragon, Kate Marvel's new climate fairytale, in Scientific American.

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Coronavirus updates: World case count tops 600,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the novel coronavirus pandemic could worsen if people fail to take the appropriate containment measures, at a Saturday news conference in Tokyo.

The big picture: The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 620,000. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 618,043 — Total deaths: 28,823 — Total recoveries: 135,736.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 104,865 — Total deaths: 1,709 — Total recoveries: 894.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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The one-minute coronavirus story

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

News about the coronavirus is so big and coming so fast that it's hard to remember what happened just last week, let alone last month.

Here's the quickest possible review of the story so far — how it happened and how the U.S. lost control.

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