Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are described in the US Declaration of Independence as "inalienable rights." But while life and liberty are easily defined and accounted for in public policy, the pursuit of happiness is not as explicitly incorporated into the law.
While current mainstream projections suggest a 3-4 °C temperature increase, this paper asserts that even a 2 °C increase—a target accepted in global discussions—could be more dangerous than originally understood. This paper predicts that current carbon emissions targets will lead to long-lasting, irreversible damage to the planet. As a result, the authors are calling for cohesive, unified action to reduce fossil fuel emissions to pre-Industrial Era levels.
The paper, written by lead author James Hansen and a diverse list of colleagues, is dedicated to Paul Epstein, our late Associate Director. The acknowledgements note that Dr. Epstein was “a fervent defender of the health of humans and the environment, who graciously provided important inputs to this paper while battling late stages of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”
Readings related to this study:
- Q&A with James Hansen (The Gleaming Retort, PLOS Blogs)
- Jeffrey Sachs: On climate, more ‘now’ and ‘how’ is needed (The Gleaming Retort, PLOS Blogs)
- James Hansen and Colleagues Offer Evidence for a Disruptive Call to Action (EveryOne, PLOS One Community Blog)