The following chart demonstrates the enormity of the challenge after 2020 to limit warming to 2 or 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
Not only must global greenhouse gas emissions be reduced at difficult to imagine rates to avoid dangerous climate change, the United States must exceed these global reduction rates for two reasons according to any sense of basic fairness. First, US per capita emissions are among the highest in the world as we have seen above. Second, the United States also exceeds all the countries in the world in historical emissions. The following chart shows the proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions being emitted by the United States since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Therefore the US will clearly need to reduce its emissions to even greater levels than those required of the entire world because its per capita emissions are higher than almost all nations and its historical emissions have disproportionally contributed to the elevated atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations already causing some climate change harms . And so, the United States is challenged to make rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions greater than most any other country. This is not only an ethical obligation, it is foundational to any hope of avoiding harsh climate change.
The US media has utterly failed to report on the scale of this challenge. Educators around the world have also largely failed to educate civil society about the urgency of action on climate change. To minimize the threat of climate change, the world needs an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to climate change that is mindful of the scale of the challenge.