NASA scientist calls Paris COP21 climate talk agreement a fraud

climate change, global warming, crossroads
The Twenty First Conference of the Parties, aka COP21, lasted about two weeks longer than scheduled. The United Nations conference on climate change ended in Paris this past Saturday, with agreements to curb emissions enough to limit the increase in the global average temperature to “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) “above pre-industrial levels.” Anything more could have “serious consequences,” meaning more extreme weather and climate-related events.

This means reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70 percent by 2050, the aim being to go fully carbon neutral by 2100. 180 countries have submitted plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, but the pledges do not quite match the goal.

“We’ve agreed to what we ought to be doing, but no one has agreed to go do it,” Dennis Clare, a negotiator for the Federated States of Miconesia told the Huffington Post UK. The 196 countries and 150 world leaders that participated in the conference have yet to ratify the published agreement.

The document “urges” countries to increase financial support for developing nations coping with climate change, especially small islands expected to be hit the hardest by rising sea levels. 280 million people live on coastlines in danger of being submerged by the end of the century, and small island nations suffer disproportionately from increasing storms.

Critics of the agreement, such as Professor James Hansen, the former NASA scientist sometimes called “the father of climate change,” have been very vocal in pointing out that the deal has little actual impact. Speaking to the Guardian, he said, “It’s a fraud really, a fake … There’s no action, just promises.”

The agreements to reduce emissions contain no mention of concrete consequences for offending polluters — those who break the agreement. There are no sanctions, taxes, or other means of punishing those who fall short of the targets set by COP21 included. In fact, consequences seem to have been left out of the document entirely.

“As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will continue to be burned.” Professor Hansen said. The burning of fossil fuels is a sticking point for resource-poor nations heavily dependent on their use. Professor Hansen went to Paris, where the talks were held, and again suggested a “fee” of $15 for every tonne of carbon emitted, with the funds distributed to residents of the respective countries on a per capita basis. That would mean each legal adult resident of the United States, for example, would get about $2,000 as an apology from the government for breaking the agreement and allowing emissions to continue, while a family with two or more children would get about $6,000 a year. Not surprisingly, such measures were not included in the UN’s published agreement.

It remains to be seen if and when enough concrete steps will be taken by the world’s nations to prevent Hansen’s prediction: a sea level rise of about five meters by 2100. Along with several colleagues, Professor Hansen published a paper in July outlining dire predictions of the nearing effects of global warming; the planet’s ice sheets are melting faster than previously thought. If things proceed this way, many of the world’s major cities will be inundated.

“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of climate refugees from places such as Pakistan and China.” Hansen said. This is not to mention that places like New York will also be underwater by those projections. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) doesn’t agree with those numbers, instead predicting a much lower rise of about a meter by the end of the century.

Emerging Tech

Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep

Autonomous wheeled delivery robots are seemingly everywhere in 2019. Agility Robotics' Digit robot takes a different approach: It promises to carry out its deliveries while walking on two legs.
News

At Collision 2019, technology finds its purpose: Doing good

Collision is ostensibly a startup show, with nearly 1,100 startups, 26,000 attendees, and conference tracks for pitching venture capitalists called Growth Summit and MoneyConf. But in 2019, another theme was clear: Fixing the world.
Cars

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport uses cameras to spot off-road obstacles

The 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport gets a host of new tech features, including a camera system that shows what's underneath the car. It also gets a mild-hybrid powertrain to improve gas mileage.
Mobile

FCC chairman and commissioner support the T-Mobile and Sprint merger

T-Mobile and Sprint are getting closer to merging. After a few failed attempts, the two companies announced their merger at the start of 2018. The new T-Mobile could be better positioned to take on the likes of Verizon and AT&T.
Product Review

Want an electric car that doesn't look like an electric car? Meet Audi's E-Tron

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the German automaker’s first series-production electric car. Rather than make a bold statement with its first electric vehicle, Audi chose to make the E-Tron as much like its other cars as possible.
Emerging Tech

This guy managed to squeeze an entire game console into a Game Boy cartridge

Popular YouTuber 3DSage has managed to compress an entire mobile games console inside a single original Game Boy cartridge. Check it out in all in its impressively miniaturized glory.
Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…
Emerging Tech

Scientists use an X-ray laser to create the loudest possible underwater sound

Researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have produced the loudest sound possible to make under water. Here's how they managed to create it — and why they did it.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Emerging Tech

Las Vegas officials bet big on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has just been awarded a $48.6 million contract by Las Vegas to build a high-speed transportation system beneath the city’s enormous convention center, and it could be ready by early 2020.
Emerging Tech

Airbus shows off the futuristic interior of its autonomous flying taxi

Airbus has given us the first look inside its single-seat flying taxi. The absence of controls in the Vahana electric aircraft is a reflection of its autonomous capabilities, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Emerging Tech

Future smart clothes promise to keep you the perfect temperature at all times

Regulating your body temperature can sometimes be tough. Engineers from UC San Diego have developed heating and cooling wearable tech which could be embedded into future smart clothing.
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 aborts marker drop mission

The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's mission to drop a reflective marker on the surface of asteroid Ryugu has been aborted. The Japanese team was considering a second touchdown on the asteroid to collect more materials, but this now seems unlikely.
Emerging Tech

Whose name should we etch on the Mars 2020 rover? NASA wants a vote

Dream of making it to Mars? NASA has opened up a new public outreach program to let people send their names to the Red Planet, as an engraving on a silicon chip launched with the Mars 2020 rover.