BENGALURU, India (AP) – Global average temperatures have risen and extreme weather conditions have already registered a rise, so the short answer if it’s too late to stop climate change is: yes. But there is still time to prevent cascading effects, as each degree of additional warming has exponentially disastrous impacts, experts say.
A 2021 report from the leading body of climate scientists provided a new analysis of the possibilities the world has of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) or 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times into the coming decades, in line with global climate goals.
Although scientists have estimated that it is still possible to stay within these limits, they said it would require immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Global temperature is more likely to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the report says.
The 1.5-degree target is “on life support,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series that answers some of the most fundamental questions about climate change, the science behind it, the effects of global warming, and how the world is dealing with it.
Without major action to reduce emissions, the global average temperature is on track to increase from 2.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, the scientists say.
And the researchers warn that the situation will become very serious before then: once the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is reached, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. When the 2 degree Celsius mark is surpassed, critical tolerance levels for agriculture and health will be reached.
But all hope is not lost, they urge.
At the time of publication of the report, Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, said that achieving the 1.5 degree goal “is still possible from a physical science perspective.”
“If we reduce global emissions to net zero by 2040, there is still a two-thirds chance of reaching 1.5 degrees and if we globally reach net zero emissions by mid-century, there is still a third chance of achieve it, “he said. she said.
If all human emissions of heat-trapping gases were to cease today, the Earth’s temperature would continue to rise for a few decades but eventually stabilize, climate scientists say. If humans did not emit any additional gases for global warming, natural processes would slowly begin to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and global temperatures would gradually begin to decline.
“There is a direct relationship between delay and warming, and between warming and risk of what we would call extreme impacts,” said Ajay Gambhir, senior researcher at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, based at Imperial College London. “Unfortunately, we are already seeing all of these extreme impacts, whether it be extreme heatwaves, increased risk of crop failures, forest fires or coral reef bleaching.”
He added: “The further we delay action to tackle climate change by reducing our emissions, the warmer the world will become.”
Follow AP’s climate and environmental coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment
Follow Sibi Arasu on Twitter at @ sibi123
The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Find out more about the AP climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.