Climate & Emissions
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns against a global average temperature increase of 2°C above pre-industrial levels or an atmospheric concentration of CO2 in excess of 400ppm, with the goal of keeping concentrations under 350ppm. In 2016 the average global atmospheric concentration of CO2 surpassed 400ppm. While the 2015 Assessment Report by the IPCC predicted average global temperatures are likely (>66% probability) to exceed pre-industrial levels by at least 1.5°C by 2100. However, the World Meteorological Organization Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015 sees the future more bleakly. 2015 was hottest year on record, 0.76°C above 1961-1990 global averages, 3/8ths of the way to the 2°C mark. In 2015 and 2016 a series of academic publications showed global temperature projections far outside of those presented by the IPCC. One of these studies stated "The resulting paleodata-based estimate of surface warming by 2100 CE is ~ 16% higher than the CMIP5 ensemble mean projection." (Friedrich, Timmermann, Tigchelaar, Timm, Ganopolski, 2016) Studies such as these have projected global mean temperature rise between 4-7 degrees centigrade by the end of the century. Most carbon emissions arise directly or indirectly from the combustion of hydrocarbons. To reduce such emissions requires either elimination or mitigation of the combustion of fossil fuels.
Climate Change Resources:
In order to mitigate the impact Whitman College has on global C02 levels Whitman College adopted a Climate Action Plan in Spring of 2016. This document provides a roadmap by which the College can reach a goal of climate neutrality. Climate neutrality means that the institution, through its operations and activities, does not contribute any net GHG emissions to the atmosphere. Carbon neutrality can be achieved by: (1) eliminating all GHG emissions (an impossible goal); (2) mitigating the level of emissions to a reasonable degree and purchasing or creating offsets to bring the College to carbon neutrality; or (3) only purchasing offsets to cover all carbon emissions.