“It is worse, much worse, than you think.” Welcome to Earth Day, 2020 edition. For future Friday, we are exploring the 2020s and beyond as it relates to the environmental movement.
Are we talking about coronavirus? No, we’re talking about climate change.
That quote comes from David Wallace-Wells, the author of The Uninhabitable Earth.
Emissions today and tomorrow
As of April 22nd, carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations stood at 415.60 parts per million. Given the tight correlation between atmospheric carbon concentrations and global temperatures, we can effectively use that magical number as a proxy for anthropogenic climate change.
Since the Industrial Revolution, CO2 concentrations have continued to rise, prompting notable climate change. But most of that increase has occurred over the last half century. We caused this problem in a matter of only a few decades, so why couldn’t we fix it in that time too?
In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report indicating we only had 12 years to keep global temperature rise from surpassing the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal set out in the Paris Agreement. … Read the rest
Our Earth Day series started with the 1970s and rounds out as we make our way toward the most recent decade – the 2010s.
The remarkable rise of social media defined this decade. Our Facebook and Twitter profiles enable us to connect, share ideas, argue, and organize in ways that no one could have predicted.
The consequences have been both glorious and dangerous. The power of social media to reach the masses fueled transformative movements, like the Arab Spring and a wave of youth climate protests.
But the same platforms that have connected us have also polarized us, fueling the rise of left and right-wing populism and anti-establishment sentiment, exemplified by Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street on one side and Brexit and the Tea Party movement on the other.
These movements mirrored a populist electoral wave, with Donald Trump, Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, and Boris Johnson among others occupying key positions in many of the world’s most influential governments.
Welcome to Earth Day, 2000s edition. The decade of 9/11, foreign wars, tech takeovers and financial ruin.
As we entered the 21st century, the world increasingly understood climate change. From natural disasters to failed diplomatic initiatives, we describe some of the most defining environmental developments of the 2000s below. It was yet another disappointing decade, book-ended by economic turmoil, but chock-full of discouraging occurrences that called into question our global commitment to addressing environmental degradation.
Next, check out our final review, a survey of environmental developments during the 2010s.
Table of Contents
2000: Paul Crutzen Anthropocene
In 2000, scientists convened for a conference in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Eventually, frustrated by repeated mentions of the term Holocene to refer to modern times, geologist Paul Crutzen exclaimed that humans have made a geological and ecological imprint sufficient to mark a separate epoch, which he deemed the Anthropocene.
Crutzen was not the first to use the term – limnologist Eugene F.