A number of renowned climate change models are predicting that catastrophic global warming will happen much sooner than previously anticipated, according to a special report by Bloomberg.
Over the past year, scientists at various institutions plugged standard environmental variables into leading climate models and set them in motion.
Some of the models predicted that the planet will warm by more than 5 degrees Celsius when carbon dioxide levels are double what they were during pre-industrial times. Previous estimates found that the world would warm by no more than 3 degrees by this juncture — which will be around the end of the century, based on the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.
The new predictions have stumped climate scientists, who don’t know what accounts for the huge jump. Over the next year, they’ll be meeting to discuss the results and determine whether or not they’re reliable. It’s possible that the results are flukes, and the models are overreacting to an unknown variable. If that’s the case, then the models will have to be reconfigured.
If the new findings turn out to be correct, then all current policy prescriptions surrounding climate change would have to be updated, according to AFP.
The Paris climate agreement, for example, is based on previous analyses and its goals would be obsolete if it turns out the world is warming much faster.
The goal to keep the world from warming 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would already be out of reach if the new model predictions are correct, Bloomberg notes. Countries would have a much shorter timeframe to bring emissions from human activity to zero to stay within the outer limit of 2 degrees Celsius.
Climate change unfolds on a sharply rising curve. The global environment further destabilizes with every additional tenth of a degree that the planet warms, making it exponentially harder to achieve the United Nations’ Global Goals.
The United Nations warns that even under the current predictions, a “climate apartheid” will materialize over the next few decades, with the world’s poorest populations bearing the brunt of of the harm.
Global warming of 5 degrees would bring catastrophic consequences by the end of the century.
Severe droughts and heat waves would sweep the globe. Agriculture would collapse. Water shortages would proliferate. Tropical storms would wreak unprecedented havoc.
The risks are too great to fathom, let alone invite.
The good news is that countries can still avoid catastrophe — by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources.