For the past 38 years, satellites have continually tracked global temperatures. And what they’ve recorded in that time is a temperature increase averaging 0.136 degrees Celsius per decade. That means on its current trajectory the Earth could see a potential surface temperature increase of 1.36 degrees Celsius over the entire 21st century.
Notably, the Paris Accord’s key goal is to keep “a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Noting the current warming trajectory, it appears that by simply doing nothing, the world could accomplish the main goal of the Accord.
Equally significant, though, is the loss of life that would result from the Paris Accord’s full implementation. While the plan’s costs may range as high as $1 trillion annually, none of it would have any meaningful impact on the roughly three billion people in the developing world who currently have no real access to energy.
Much of the developing world still burns dung as their chief means of cooking and heating. Realistically, the most effective means of saving their lives and improving living conditions would be to provide the steady electricity generation needed for water and sewage treatment as well as lighting and cooking.
The Paris Accord, in contrast, essentially ends any chance to help them. While natural gas and coal power plants could provide reliable, affordable electricity for these populations, the Accord aims to steadily reduce fossil fuel usage.
Well-meaning bureaucrats in the United Nations readily support the distribution of solar panels and wind turbines to the developing world. But these sources of energy can hardly undertake the massive lift needed to modernize dung-burning peoples.
And so, rather than saving them, the Paris Accord would mean forfeiting the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the developing world.
It’s unfortunate that amidst the shrill debate over the agreement very little is said of the moral implications that would result from sacrificing less fortunate populations in Africa and Asia. This is all the more egregious when one considers that the current warming trend, even if it continues, appears far milder than the Paris Accord’s boosters will admit.
These are important points, however, and there should be a moral duty to examine all of the implications involved.