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How America can leave fossil fuels behind, in one chart

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 Environmental   |   Science
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And what the 2020 US election means for climate change.

What do you think the presidential candidates should be talking about? http://vox.com/ElectionVideos

All of recorded human history has happened during a period in which the average global temperature didnt change by more than 1 degree Celsius. But the burning of fossil fuels has triggered a temperature rise projected to exceed 3 degrees by the end of the century. It will be catastrophic. But it can be avoided if we massively scale back the burning of fossil fuels.

The US isnt the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, but it's emitted more carbon dioxide in total than any other country. So the US has an important role to play in global decarbonization; the world basically cant get there without the USs full participation. But the current US president doesnt have any plans to do that. His Democratic challenger in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, does.

Bidens plan is ambitious: Its goal is to completely transition the US to clean energy by 2050. But his plan doesnt get into the details of exactly how that will happen. For that, we talked to physicist and engineer Saul Griffith, who took us through his incredibly detailed road map for how the US could actually walk away from fossil fuels in the next 30 years.

This video is the first in our series on the 2020 election. We arent covering the horse race; instead, we want to explain the stakes of the election through the issues that matter the most to you. To do that, we want to know what you think the US presidential candidates should be talking about. Tell us here: http://vox.com/ElectionVideos

You can check out Saul Griffiths report on decarbonizing the US through electrification at Rewiring America:
https://www.rewiringamerica.org/handbook

And explore his Sankey diagram of the US energy economy in detail here: http://energyliteracy.com/

To read more about the fluctuations in Earths global average temperature and why the current spike is so dangerous, check these sources:
https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/what%E2%80%99s-hottest-earth-has-been-%E2%80%9Clately%E2%80%9D
https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/
https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2865/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/
https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/ipcc_far_wg_I_spm.pdf

Read more about why carbon dioxide is so problematic for climate change here: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/why-does-co2-get-more-attention-other-gases

You can dig into historic carbon emissions by country or region at Our World in Data:
https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/annual-co-emissions-by-region

The impact of the Trump administration on climate change is covered in more depth on our website:
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/8/27/21374894/trump-election-second-term-climate-change-energy-russia-china
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/21349200/climate-change-fossil-fuels-rewiring-america-electrify

Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com.
Watch our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE
Follow Vox on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
Or Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H

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