Summary of The Dirty Secret of the World’s Plan to Avert Climate Disaster

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In climate science, 2°C has become a magic number. It is the threshold below which many climate researchers believe global temperature rise has to be kept to avert catastrophic consequences. The 2°C limit is the backbone of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and requires massive cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Abby Rabinowitz and Amanda Simson take a close look at the UN’s computer-model-generated climate scenarios and the technology that might help the world stay within the 2°C limit. getAbstract recommends this article to scientists and entrepreneurs concerned with the long-term impact of climate change. 

About the Authors

Abby Rabinowitz teaches writing at Columbia University. Amanda Simson is a chemical engineer specializing in renewable energy research.



The rise in global temperature is unlikely to stay within the 2°C limit that many scientists consider safe.

In 2010, climate scientists calculated that to prevent a rise in global temperature of less than 2°C above preindustrial values – a limit defined within the Paris climate agreement – humans can emit no more than an additional 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide in total. With humans currently emitting 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide annually, it becomes difficult to imagine that the target can be reached through emissions cuts alone.

UN climate models assume removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. 

In 101 out of 116 scenarios in which the 2°C goal is met, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assumes that humans will soon have the capacity to remove carbon dioxide...

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