Obama to UN: 'No Country Can Escape The Ravages of Climate Change'

Obama squeezes in climate change at the UN General Assembly.

Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

During a Monday morning address in the galactic green chambers of the United Nations, President Barack Obama spoke bluntly about stagnating political polarization, dealing with the Syrian crisis, the threat of ISIS, and, briefly, the danger of a warming planet.

“No country can escape the ravages of climate change,” Obama said during his address, which lasted a little more than an hour.

“We can roll back the pollution that we put in our skies,” Obama said. The president issued a series of exhortations for an international collabo, as one does at the U.N. on problems that ignore national boundaries. “If we cannot work together more effectively, we will all suffer the consequences.”

Obama called for decisive and unified measures in preparation for the U.N. Paris conference this December — a summit of countries pledging to deal with global warming; the we’re-all-in-this-boat-together approach to climate change is by no means new, but has been the subject of a few high-profile speeches in September, notably the Pope’s address to Congress.

Will the Paris pledges effectively push the mercury down? A recent forecast from Washington, D.C. nonprofit Climate Interactive looks grim: Based on the pledges as they’ve been announced so far — by large emitters like the U.S. and China but missing India and a few others — there will still be significant rises in temperatures.

Without the commitments, the end of the century will see a rise of 8 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to increasing greenhouse gases, the group predicts. With the pledges, the average global temperatures could rise by as much as 6 degrees.

Climate Interactive assumes that, post-pledge, nations will get locked in on a stable emissions path around 2025 or 2030. To shrink the global warming temps, greenhouse gas emissions will need to further be slashed as the century marches on.

The average surface temperature has increased by about 1.5 degrees since before the Industrial Revolution; as it stands now, ice is melting the world over and we are in the middle of a sixth extinction. No escape indeed.

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