“Code Red for Humanity”: a dire warning from the IPCC and our climate action

By Kathryn Link-Oberstar (fundraising team co-leader), Toshi Ishihara (board member), and Masada Disenhouse (executive director). 

This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its most grim and decisive climate assessment to date.

In its starkest conclusions yet, the IPCC attributes a definitive causal relationship between human-induced climate change, and intensifying weather and climate events. 

For those of us in the trenches, this is not a surprise, but an affirmation of our worst fears – that inaction and false promises by global leaders and politicians have pushed our climate to its limit. That some changes, like sea-level rise and ocean acidification, are irreversible, and others will take centuries or millennia to reverse. We are on track to exceed 2°C of warming in this century, and unless we take immediate and decisive action now, the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords will be out of reach. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres characterized the IPCC report as “nothing less than a Code Red for Humanity.” He said “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”

While the report does not discuss the role of the fossil fuel industry in the crisis, the UN Secretary-General didn’t mince words, saying “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.” Despite this, fossil fuel companies – and utilities like SDG&E / Sempra in San Diego – are doubling down on fossil fuel extraction at the exact time we should be ending. 

It is clear that there is no future scenario in which we turn back the clock. However, the report indicates the climate can be stabilized by “strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions.” We know that only powerful citizen action around the world can stop the fossil fuel industry and stem the tide of devastating climate impacts. 

Now, more than ever, we must push harder and mobilize more people to enact bold climate policy in our region, the country and the world. 

Preventing the worst impacts of climate change relies on mobilizing our communities to stand up and take action. SanDiego350 has been doing this for nearly a decade. We have over 15 volunteer lead teams and hundreds of volunteers. And, as Masada shared on CBS8 earlier this week, in our ten years fighting for climate justice in San Diego, we’ve seen that bold action by individuals, here and around the world, is the driving force for change. 

However, we need to step up our efforts. We must aggressively demand climate action and to hold elected officials and business leaders accountable for taking those actions necessary to securing a livable planet for us, our children and grandchildren. And, we must raise public awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis, climate justice, and what they can do to demand action and prepare for the worst impacts.

We feel that climate change is disrupting the world in our bones. To save civilization we need to fight like hell right now. Together we can create change and stand up for what’s right. We’re grateful to be standing with all of you. 

About Masada D

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as its Executive Director. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.