100 Months and Counting Until Climate Change Is Irreversible

More than a decade before the new millennium, Prince had written a song about it. "Party like it's 1999," became a classic and North Americans even used it to usher in the New Year.

According to Andrew Simms, a UK climate change specialist, the world has about 100 months to count down before something less celebratory takes place: 100 months is the time it will take for climate change to reach that inevitable "tipping point" -- the point when the world as we know changes. Runaway changes in weather patterns will start, there will be droughts; some land will be made inhospitable; we can expect to see the collapse of species in the sea and on land. Basically, terribly scary stuff is expected to happen.

one hundred 100 months climate change

In an opinion editorial in the UK's Guardian, Simms says that "in just 100 months' time, if we are lucky, and based on a quite conservative estimate, we could reach a tipping point for the beginnings of runaway climate change."

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For Simms, the 100 month countdown is nothing to celebrate, but there may be time to make some changes. Drawing on the example of the New Deal implemented by US President Roosevelt during the 30s Dust Bowl and depression era, Simms from the New Economics Foundation, outlines UK's New Green Deal (he helped pen), and its associated website onehundredmonths.org, intended to give UK citizens a plan to counteract climate change. The model could work well for America too.

Steps Americans Can Take to Help Reverse (or Slow Down) Climate Change

According to Simms' impressive article (I've summed up his points):

  • Avoid infrastructure that is fossil-fuel-dependent (such as the construction of new airports, coal-fired power plants) that lock us in patterns of future greenhouse gas emissions, radically reducing our ability to make the short- to medium-term cuts.
  • Appeal to governments to stop defecting blame and responsibility: "It is wildly unrealistic to think that individuals alone can effect a comprehensive re-engineering of the [West's] fossil-fuel-dependent energy, food and transport systems. The government must lead."
  • Governments should launch a Green New Deal, similar to the one launched in the UK last week, taking inspiration from President Roosevelt's famous 100-day program implemented in the face of the dust bowls and depression.
  • Rein in reckless financial institutions and use a range of fiscal tools, new measures and reforms to the tax system, such as a windfall tax on oil companies.
  • Resources should be invested in a massive environmental transformation program that could insulate the economy from recession, and create countless new jobs.
  • Overhaul a nation's building stock, and tackle the city. First up, he says, remove the money of oil companies pouring into cities. Re-list these companys' resources as "unburnable."
  • Instead of using vast sums of public money to bail out banks (because they are considered "too big to fail"), banks should be reduced in size until they are small enough to fail without hurting anyone.
  • With oil prices wobbling around $130, there is a huge amount of unearned profit waiting for a windfall tax (companies made profits when it was $10 a barrel). Money raised would go towards a long-overdue massive decarbonisation of our energy system.
  • A rolling program to overhaul heat-leaking buildings and homes will massively cut emissions and tackle fuel poverty.
  • Weaning agriculture off fossil-fuel dependency.
  • The "one person, one car" on the roads, should be transformed to a variety of clean reliable forms of public transport. This should be visible by the middle of our 100 months.