People that are somewhat aware of the extremely alarming situation regarding global warning have probably not missed that IPCC (Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change) report that was released about a week ago. From a scientific perspective there´s not much information that has not been available before, but it clarifies how big difference in impact there is between 1.5 and 2 degrees warming. If you have not read the report, you can find it here. This page also displays the differences in a more easy to read format.
To take some examples on the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees warming above preindustrial levels:
- Frequency of extreme warm temperatures over land would increase by 343% at 2 degrees compared to 129% at 1.5 degrees.
- Frequency of extreme rainfall over land would increase by 36% at 2 degrees compared to 17% at 1.5 degrees.
- Sea level rise in 2100 would be around 56 cm at 2 degrees compared with 48 cm at 1.5 degrees.
- Over 99% of warm water coral reefs would die at 2 degrees warming compared with around 80% at 1.5 degrees.
- GDP per capita would decrease by 13% av 2 degrees compared to only 8% at 1.5 degrees.
As seen by the last statement, it´s not only nature and peoples daily lives that are affected, the world economy is also greatly affected. This was clearly visible in the World Economics forum where three of the top five threats to economy is linked to environment effects of global forum. You can read about the threats here. As someone stated this: “there is no business in a dead world”.
“there is no business in a dead world”.
When comparing these numbers one should remember that halting global warming at 1.5 degrees is extremely unlikely and would require us to start reducing emissions greatly just within a few years. It would also require Carbon Negative technologies sucking carbon from the air in a scale that we currently do not have technology for. Currently, the world is heading for 4 degrees warming or more which would likely mean such an extreme impact that global wars for resources and extreme migration on a unpresidental level.
Should we despair?
Hopefully you have already noticed how extreme weather is already gaining in frequency. Extreme hurricanes and cyclones are in likes that have not been seen in 30, 50 or even a hundred years are now frequently plaguing parts of the world . And these are also moving further north/south to areas that have not previously been hit by weather of this magnitude due to increasing water temperatures. One could only hope that the destruction in property and life in the US east coast would finally give people a reason to oppose the madness in the climate related policies in the Trump administration. In Europe, as well as in California, massive forest fires brought by extreme temperatures and drought were having major impact to society this summer. However, there is still a fight to be made, with populist trends in the world looking at short term wins.
“The least we can do is as much as possible”
First of all, I think that we should have a realistic view of the situation. As Swedish meteorologist Per Holmberg states the situation: “The least we can do is as much as possible”. There surely is possibilities to at least make sure that climate change affects us as little as possible to avoid worst case scenarios. The positive bi-effect of this is that the changes we are forced to do would also make a better world, for instance:
- Improve the environment in general, for instance improving air quality which is a great problem, specifically in Asia.
- Make a more equal world (The 10% richest people in the world currently is responsible for 50% of emissions. Also, a lot of poorer people depend on nutrients from fishing dependent on coral reefs).
In the next blog, we will look into what you as an individual can do to decrease emissions.