Terrifying climate change warning: 12 years until we’re doomed
- Grace Luna
It's worth noting that we haven't even promised enough action to duck under 3.0°C, much less hit a lower goal, but it's not physics that stands in our way.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meeting in South Korea, issued a report with 91 authors and editors from 40 countries declaring that there's now a 12-year window to make "far-reaching and unprecedented changes" to avert dramatic effects of global warming.
Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require "far-reaching and unprecedented changes", such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said, launching a special report that said the world must move faster on climate change.
And we're running out of time to thwart it.
While coral reefs could decline 70 to 90 percent with 1.5C of warming, virtually all the world's reefs would be lost at 2C, while far more creatures and plants across the world face losing a large part of their range. A problem with the Paris accord is that the pledges made do not get the world anywhere near cutting carbon emissions to zero by mid-century, which is what is needed to curb warming to 1.5C. "The climate crisis is here and already impacting the most vulnerable and the least responsible for creating it".
But it adds if temperatures rise by 2C, the effects will be more pronounced and more people will be put at risk of poverty and water stress, with higher health risks.
We are nowhere near reaching the target to limit average global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and the world is on track to be 3C warmer.
It concluded in a major report released yesterday that deep emission cuts are needed before 2030 to achieve this.
Reining in the emissions of another greenhouse gas, methane, from the cultivation of cattle, rice and other agricultural products - even as farmers need to feed a growing global population. Doing so would certainly require massive investments, but they would pay off.
The head of the United Nations said the report should be an "ear-splitting wake-up call to the world" as "it confirms that climate change is running faster than we are - and we are running out of time". Of the more than 100,000 terrestrial species that have been studied, for example, the number expected to disappear from half their range doubles between 1.5 and 2.0°C.
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Countries are already seeing an increase in extreme weather and rising sea levels as a result of the increase in average global temperatures of 1 degree above pre-industrial levels that has already occurred, the IPCC study said. These factors could trigger huge migrations of people and mass extinctions of animals.
Australia, and other countries around the world, already have their plans for how they plan to address global warming so it's not like Professor Howden and his IPCC colleagues are trying to tell them what to do.
These are just a few examples taken from a depressingly long list of climate change threats that would be made significantly more risky if the temperature were to rise by 2°C or beyond by the end of the century.
Before the Paris Agreement was inked in 2015, almost a decade of scientific research rested on the assumption that 2C was the guardrail for a climate-safe world.
The outcome will determine whether "my grandchildren would get to see lovely coral reefs", Princeton's Oppenheimer said. A tenfold increase in Arctic ice-free summers.
"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 °C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems", said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
This story originally appeared in the New York Post.
At the Paris Agreement in 2015‚ 2ºC was set as the ceiling we should aim to stay under‚ but that has now been changed to 1.5ºC.
There are financial estimates of the damage, too. At 1.5°C, sea levels will still rise, but they'll be 10cm lower than they will if we reach 2°C, which could just mean the difference between survival and annihilation for some island nations and coastal areas.
As climatologist Michael Mann told National Geographic, the more we can to prevent this temperature rise, the better.
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