Keeping An Eye on the Paris Climate Talks: Climate Change in Six Infographics


World leaders are meeting this week and next for the Paris Climate Talks.  The least we folks here at home can do — YES, THE VERY LEAST WE CAN DO — is to pay attention to the issue and acknowledge the situation as it stands.  Since architects are visual people, we’ve assembled some of the best  representations of the current climate situation.  

Who agrees climate change is happening?

Um … pretty much completely everyone.  This good old fashioned pie chart from DeSmog, via Popular Science, demonstrates how, between November 2012 and December 2013, there were 2,258 articles, written by a total of 9,136 authors agreeing that humans are causing climate change … and one lonely Russian aerospace researcher denying it.

scientists agree

Who’s been contributing most to Climate Change?

World Resources Institute has prepared this open source illustration of how emissions to date have been produced – by which countries and which activities.  This isn’t really news … its us (that is, the US) as well as the other EU countries and China, with India, Russia, Japan and Brazil rushing to jump on the bandwagon.  This image looks pretty but do click the link because on the actual infographic is has scroll over details that are interesting.

world carbon emissions

What’s been done about it so far?

Climate Reality Project Australia has put together a great summary of the international acknowledgments and agreements made to date regarding Climate Change.  So if you (like us) have a hard time remembering the difference between the Rio and Kyoto breakdown, here it is in cheerful colorful detail. (Note: it works better in scrolling form.  Click the link.)

history of climate talks

What will it look like where you are?

This graphic, by Climate Central, is embedded in the post.  Type your home city and find out what other city the weather will feel like in 2100 if we don’t change our behavior right now.  Chicago will feel like … for example.  Yuma, AZ (currently with summers clocking in at 105) will feel like Kuwait City, Kuwait.  And we already know that the middle east will be getting pretty darn HOT.  Uninhabitable … maybe not.  But not great either.

What are We Doing to Prepare for Climate Change?

States At Risk has prepared individual assessments of how each state will be affected by climate change and what they are doing to get ready for it.  While the upper midwest generally will get off a lot easier than places prone to huge coastal flooding or months-long wild fire, Illinois earned a D from their Preparedness Report Card by doing very little to create climate change adaptation plans or improve resilience.   Ouch.

preparedness report card

How About The Upside?

Here’s a more positive perspective: the Solutions Project is a team of activists, business people, academics (and Mark Buffalo) who have pulled together information on the transition to 100% renewable energy sources.  They have a really eye-friendly state-by-state breakdown of how the US can replace their fossil fuel energy sources with WWS (wind, water, solar) by 2050.

solutions project 100% renewables

Here in Illinois they propose a roughly one third solar, two thirds wind power setup.  The cost savings in health care and mortality means that this plan PAYS FOR ITSELF IN THREE YEARS. The Solutions Project estimates that making the transition would create nearly 200,000 40-year jobs as well as saving more than 3000 lives every year with clearer air.   Wouldn’t that be nice?

So what can we do here at home?  Drive less.  Fly less. Divest your retirement portfolio of stock in fossil fuels. Email your local, state and national representatives.  And we can design, live and work in buildings that make less of an impact on the environment.