Following the release of a 2018 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, many media outlets began running headlines warning that humans have 12 years to avoid the most catastrophic climate change scenarios. Daniel Swain, climate scientist within UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, is quoted in Chicago Sun Times and Inside Climate News explaining why these headlines may be misleading.
“In the physical climate system, there are no scientists claiming that there is a magical threshold that we breach or don’t breach that determines whether we have a habitable climate system,” Swain said. “The next decade is incredibly consequential for what we do…. but I think the emphasis that’s being placed on this specific 12-year window as a differentiator between existential crisis or not is [sic] problematic.”