Some time ago humanity discovered vast deposits of fuel buried deep within the earth. We learned to extract it, burn it for energy, and release it into the air, and about 150 years ago, we rebuilt our entire civilization around that energy source. We burn it to travel, we burn it to eat, we burn it to live. Fossil fuels brought about one of the greatest increases in standard of living in human history. We could never go back. But by burning this incredible fuel source, we are also inexorably heating the earth. 2015 was the hottest year since we started keeping records in 1880. And thanks to rising ocean temperatures, average sea levels have already risen about eight inches. And we're in for a lot worse.
This is Dale Jamieson. He's a professor of Environmental Studies at NYU. Wayne, we've already done so much damage to the atmosphere that we'll be lucky if we can hold the warming to two degrees Celsius. Two degrees? Well, that's just the difference between a jacket and a slightly lighter jacket. Not to the earth, it isn't. Just two degrees of warming could cause huge draughts, massive wildfires, the loss of many species, the collapse of our agricultural productivity, and the rising sea levels could make our coastal cities uninhabitable. And remember, two degrees of warming is the best we can realistically hope for. The question isn't, will warming happen? The question is, how bad will it be? That's terrible. Isn't there something I can do? The sad truth is that we've already put so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we're more than halfway towards that two-degree centigrade limit.
And right now, companies and countries already own enough fossil fuel in reserves to meet that limit five times over. Five times over? To keep it in the ground, they'd have to give up trillions of dollars and we'd have to change our entire way of life. And what happens if we burn it? What happens to our planet then? I don't know, but it won't be our planet anymore. ♪♪ (birds chirping) Oh, Sammy… everything I've done, all the green products I buy, the trash I pick up… even the car I drive… it wasn't enough. I guess the only thing left to do is… to prepare you for the post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" future. Wayne, listen to me. The world is not ending. Despite everything, there are still tremendous reasons for hope. Come on, I'll show you! (engine revving effect, tires screeching effect) Come on, I'll show you! Can I stop the climate apocalypse or not? By yourself, no. We have to do it together. Buying greener stuff and walking to work is great, but it's not enough.
The entire world has to come together to solve this problem. That's never gonna happen. Well, it already is. In 2015, nearly every country in the world met as one and for the first time, signed a treaty to curb carbon emissions. It was called the Paris Agreement. You know, we could stop Saran-wrapping our croissants individually. That would be real nice for New Orleans. And we could stop burning tires just to pass a good time. Yeah. (chuckles) New Orleans isn't a country. Eh, my writing staff loves Cajun jokes. What can I say? Oh, hey, Dale. Each country agreed to be accountable for reducing its emissions every five years. That's a big deal. It proves that international cooperation on climate change is possible. That's amazing. So the planet is saved? No, the Paris Agreement is just a first step. Its emissions limits are non-binding and by itself, it won't stop us from exceeding two degrees of warming.
(sighs) So we are doomed. I feel like Miles Teller I got so much whiplash..