U.N. climate change report says we're on the path to an 'unlivable' planet. WE DID IT!

That’s right, folks, after decades of doing our level best to destroy the planet we inhabit, we’re finally on the cusp of success.

Rex Huppke

Earlier this week, a bunch of scientists announced we are “on track toward an unlivable world.”

I missed the news initially because a passing fire tornado knocked out my internet service. But once I learned about it, I had what I assume is a common reaction: “WOOO-HOOOOO! WE DID IT!!!”

That’s right, folks, after decades of doing our level best to destroy the planet we inhabit, we’re finally on the cusp of success.

A new report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it’s now impossible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the point at which scientists believe extreme weather events will dramatically alter life on Earth – without “immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors.” 

HAH! Has the intergovernmental panel ever met any humans? People who won’t make the effort to wear a face mask during a deadly pandemic aren’t likely to engage in immediate or deep reductions of anything.

In this photo, a funnel appears in a thick plume of smoke from the Loyalton Fire in Lassen County, California, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020.

Tipping point, shmipping point

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said: “It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world. ... We are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts.”

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Meh, what are you gonna do? If I’m honest, I’m kind of bored with this world. The oceans are dull (tide comes in, tide goes out, tide comes in, tide goes out … MIX IT UP ALREADY!), the forests are lame (“Oh, hi, I’m a mighty pine tree who will live forever … OH NO, it’s a tiny beetle, now I’m going to die!”) and the animals are far too extinct-able (“I’m a maned wolf in Brazil and now I may soon be endangered because roads crisscross my natural habitat and I keep getting run over, WHAAAAA!!”)

In the worldwide effort to curb climate change, 2021 was an important year. The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report with its most urgent plea for quick action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Seems high time we find a place more interesting and robust, a planet that doesn’t have such petroleum-sensitive pelicans or rainforests that fall apart over a harmless bit of deforestation and whatnot.

Could we fix it? Sure, but...

Could we take broad, sensible measures to protect the planet that gave us life and ensure there’s a future for our children that involves an inhabitable earth? Yeah, I suppose.

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But first I’d have to go out to the driveway and turn off the Hummer I leave on all night to drown out the sounds of birds. Then I’d have to stop dumping half-empty cans of paint in a corner of the backyard AND cancel my weekend tire-burning. (I invited the neighbors and already bought burgers, Styrofoam plates and cases of plastic water bottles. I don’t want to waste all that!)

Nah, it’s a lot easier to just admit we’ve pretty well partied this planet out.

This satellite image provided by NASA, Aqua MODIS 21 on March 2022 shows the two pieces of C-38 (A and B icebergs) next to the main piece of C-37 at the top. Scientists are concerned because an ice shelf the size of New York City collapsed in East Antarctica, an area that had long been thought to be stable. The collapse last week was the first time scientists have ever seen an ice shelf collapse in this cold area of Antarctica. (NASA via AP)

Just a couple weeks ago, an ice shelf the size of New York City collapsed in East Antarctica. I don’t technically care about that because it didn’t fall on my head or directly impact me while I was using my gas-powered leaf blower to clear bees off my property, but I assume it’s a sign that things are starting to fall apart and we humans need to start looking for new digs. The spray-painted writing is on the wall. 

Action? Now? Hahahahahaa!

Jim Skea, co-chair of the U.N. climate change panel, said “climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production. This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”

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Or – and I’m just spit balling here – we could ditch this rock and find a place more amenable to our lifestyles and patterns of consumption. Let’s consider the ecological requirements that would fit our modern-day needs:

1) Fish that eat plastic. Here on Earth, we’re constantly dealing with fish taking up space in the oceans where we store our plastic waste. Clearly any new planet will need fish that consume and appreciate the sweet, delicious plastic we will inevitably produce.

Beverage bottles, food packages, and shopping bags are among the most common plastics that wind up in garbage bins -- and eventually the oceans -- after only one use.

2) No deciduous trees. A large contributor to the destruction of our planet’s environment is the gas-powered leaf blower that I use to harass bees. One study found that a “consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.”

It’s certainly not the fault of humans that leaf blowers were developed and are widely used. It’s the fault of trees that sloppily drop their leaves each year, forcing us humans to need leaf blowers because raking is hard and stupid. Any new planet must be free of leaf-dropping trees.

3) Less gravity. Due to Earth’s annoying gravity, the carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases we produce in vast quantities are unable to drift off into space and become somebody else’s problem.

So the ideal “New Earth” would have less or maybe even zero gravity. That would allow us to drive an SUV to a store that’s one block away without concern, much like what we’re already doing, but without the troublesome guilt that comes with rendering a planet uninhabitable.

Granted, there might be minor problems with the SUVs floating off into space, and the lack of an atmosphere that comes with zero gravity might make breathing a bit tricky…but I’m sure we can iron those problems out with our gas-powered irons.

How about oil-enhanced otters?

Otters     Seven Asian small-clawed Asian at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta were the first known otters to become infected with COVID-19. While all of them survived, the case created concern about endangered sea otters possibly becoming infected. In November of 2021, the Monterey Bay Aquarium began vaccinating sea otters in their facility. Otters are mustelids, and closely related to mink, who are highly susceptible to COVID and known to transmit the virus.

There might be a few other things we need – like otters that appreciate having their viscosity enhanced by oil spills – but this should be enough to get us shopping around for a suitable new home.

I’m sure we’ve got enough time to figure it out. I’d double-check how long, but my internet just dropped out again.

Darn fire tornadoes.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook: facebook.com/RexIsAJerk/.