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Concordia’s Climate Clock will update on December 12 — and time is ticking!

Damon Matthews and David Usher speak at 4TH SPACE about the urgent action needed to slow down global warming
December 9, 2019

On December 12, Damon Matthews, professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, will be joined by author, musician and entrepreneur David Usher to address how much time is left before global warming starts to become really dangerous.

The two are co-creators of the Climate Clock project, a real-time measurement of how long we have until the average global temperature surpasses 1.5 °C above pre-industrial averages, the lower limit of the temperature target established by the Paris Agreement.

“Our goal in developing the Climate Clock was to create something visual and intuitive that would introduce time — a quantity that we all understand — into the climate conversation,” says Matthews, who is also Concordia Research Chair in Climate Science and Sustainability.

“By showing the time remaining until we reach the 1.5°C mark, we feel that the clock is able to communicate the urgency of action in a way that people understand and can relate to.”

The clock is updated once a year, often around the anniversary of the signing of the agreement. This will be the fifth update since the project launched in 2015.

Amélie Daoust-Boisvert, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism, will host this edition, which features Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth, as one of its panelists.

From left: Concordia researcher Damon Matthews and musician and entrepreneur David Usher. From left: Concordia researcher Damon Matthews and musician and entrepreneur David Usher.

“The clock updates have reflected trends in global CO2 emissions,” explains Matthews. “Some years, global emissions did not increase as fast as expected, and these were the years that saw time being added to the clock. The clock has also been adjusted in light of new scientific understanding about how much warming has been caused by humans to date, as well as what allowable emissions remain if we want to avoid exceeding 1.5°C.”

The clock will be projected at 4TH SPACE during the update. Matthews and Usher will lead a conversation about the project and what this latest update means at a time when the news about climate change is far from encouraging.

“This year, global CO2 emissions are expected to increase again, reaching the highest level ever recorded. At the same time, improved measurements of the recent global temperature increase are suggesting that we are a little bit closer to 1.5°C than previously thought,” Matthews explains.

“The combination of these two changes is not good news for the clock numbers.”

Despite the fact that current science is discouraging, Matthews says he still has hope that the clock can yet turn in the right direction.

“I have to remain optimistic! At some point the world is going to have to rally around climate change in a real way — when this happens (and global CO2 emissions start to decrease), we will find out if we are able to add time to the clock fast enough to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.”

Register for the December 12 Climate Clock update event at 4TH SPACE.


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