'All hands on deck': Climate crisis coming sooner than targets project

Given the dire prognostications of a UN climate study released on Oct. 8, the urgency has been renewed, Miller said, and targets have been more immediately brought to the fore, even as the U.S. distances itself from climate action.

Miller cited the work of Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, PhD, a German theoretical physicist and founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Schellnhuber gave a presentation at the conference in Greece showing that even holding to the 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature considered the guard rail in the Paris Climate Agreement, there is still the chance that this warming could trigger processes by which global temperatures eventually rise by 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, with sea-level rise up to 200 feet higher than levels today.

“That’s unimaginable,” Miller said. “At that level, Schellnhuber argued in another venue, the carrying capacity of the Earth could be reduced to 1 billion people. This is why we need all hands on deck to move as rapidly as possible to a target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.”