3 Degrees Celsius Global Warming Would Devastate Planet

Rob Dobi for BuzzFeed News

There is a very real opportunity the planet will warm by an average of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) this century – and that would be a disaster.

In such a brutally hot world, scientists agree that deadly heatwaves, massive wildfires and downpours of rain will be much more frequent and more devastating than they are today. now on. The ocean will also be hotter and more acidic, cause fish to decrease and potentially the end of coral reefs. In fact, a quarter of all species on Earth may be extinct under such conditions or in that direction. Our coastlines will be reshaped as a result of rising sea levels, century after century, drowning place such as Charleston, South Carolina’s Market Street, downtown Providence, Rhode Island and the Space Center in Houston.

All of this, as climate scientist Daniel Swain of the University of California, Los Angeles, has put it, would be bad: “It’s bad for humans. Not good for the ecosystem. It’s not good for the stability of Earth systems on which we humans depend for everything.”

Experts cannot say exactly how likely this future is because it depends on what humanity does to mitigate the worsening climate crisis, especially over the next decade. But for the world leaders gathered this weekend in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), this future could become a necessity if they don’t agree. with more active and immediate measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“Bad for humans. Not good for the ecosystem. It’s not good for the stability of Earth systems on which we humans depend for everything.”

The common global goal under the Paris climate agreement is to prevent global temperature increases by no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), with ideally no more than 1.5 degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). But now, we’re on the right track with almost double – a potentially catastrophic 3 degree angle.

Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech and one of the authors on the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told BuzzFeed News. “Honestly, it is almost unthinkable.”

So, what does the 3 degrees Celsius of temperature possibly look like?

For one, our world will be much hotter than it is today.

George Rose / Getty Images

The water level at Lake Tahoe has dropped below its natural belt, dropping more than 3 feet and shutting off the water to the Truckee River as seen on October 17 in South Lake Tahoe, California.

Where is the starting point? to measure future warming is not today – it was in the late 1800s, when reliable global temperature records began to be available. More than a century later, the planet has warmed by a little more than 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) due to a build-up of fossil fuel pollutants like carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. It’s average, but some places have become much warmer.

Adding 2 more degrees to the 1 we added would make our world much hotter and disproportionately hotter on land. Here’s why: About 70% of the planet is covered in water, and water warms more slowly than land.

“If the whole world were to warm by 3 degrees Celsius, the entire land area would have to be a lot warmer than that,” explains Swain.

“Honestly, it is almost unthinkable.”

According to Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and energy systems analyst at the Breakthrough Institute, that would likely be about 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer on average, or 4.5 degrees overall. And it will probably be even hotter in the Arctic, where already warm up about three times proportions of the rest of the planet.

One way to visualize what this might look like in the places we live is to look at the projected number of days that local temperatures reach or exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). Earlier this century, Arizona experienced about 116 days of such high temperatures, Texas experienced about 43 days, Georgia about 11 days, Montana about 6 days and Massachusetts just 1 day, according to the report. modeled by the Climate Impact Laboratory.

If global temperatures increase by an average of 3 degrees Celsius by 2100, those numbers would spike between an estimated 179 and 229 days out of at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit days in Arizona, 135 to 186 days in Texas , 85 to 143 days in Georgia, 46 to 78 days in Montana and 26 to 66 days in Massachusetts, according to the same analysis.

Disasters will multiply.

Michael Hanson / AFP via Getty Images

A sign indicates the way to a cooling center at Kellogg Middle School in Portland, Oregon, on Aug.

Only this summerThe Pacific Northwest heatwave brought Death Valley-like temperatures to British Columbia, Oregon and Washington, kill hundreds of people in a case that scientists agree would be “Almost impossible“Without climate change. Then a The downpour set a record fell about 9 inches in the middle of Tennessee, killing about two dozen people. And last weekend, lose more than 5 inches in a day in the California capital Sacramento, setting a new record.

“What comes to mind is, what would be the shocking event that would happen in a world 3 degrees warmer?” Swain said.

Can’t know the exact answer. But the general outlines of what it might look like are clear: extreme heat events are even more common and intense and such rains are more frequent and intense, even in the place is supposed to be drier in such a world. This is true almost anywhere on the planet.

“There are very few places on Earth that won’t see an increase in maximum rainfall intensity,” Swain said, adding that “there’s very likely no place that won’t experience an increase in heat during hot days.” harshest. ”

Pete Bannan / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Warren Montgomery tries to cross a road in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, after historic flooding from the hurricane system Hurricane Ida.

Statistics from latest IPCC report support this. What is considered a 1-in-10-year heat extreme event, such as a heatwave, in the late 1880s would be 5.6 times more likely to occur in a world 3 degrees warmer. The result can be higher electricity costs due to an air conditioner blowout, which can cause power problems. People who are not cooled are more likely to suffer from heatstroke. And then there’s the water shortage problem; Along with ongoing heat waves, they can cause mass crop failures.

Likewise, what was previously considered an extreme rainfall event lasting 1 in 10 years overland would be 1.7 times more likely. These types of disasters have historically caused roads to be washed away, homes and businesses flooded, and power lines down.

Meanwhile, regional disasters will also increase in frequency and intensity. Think prolonged droughts and larger wildfires along the West Coast and stronger storms along the Gulf Coast and East Coast. Worse still, a phenomenon known as “double disaster” can mean that such events occur in rapid succession or simultaneously. A recent example of this is Louisiana’s Lake Charleswhich suffered several federally declared disasters in a year: severe hurricanes, including a destructive Category 4 hurricane, followed by a winter storm and then intense floods.

Nickolay Lamm / Climate Center Courtesy

Render image of the National Mall with 3 degrees of global warming

In a world 3 degrees warmerToday’s coastlines will be largely absent, steadily diminished in the coming centuries by sea level rise.

By the end of 2100, sea levels are expected to rise by about 2 feet on average. That is almost catastrophic for the small island nations. Most of the Maldives, large swathes of the Bermuda Islands and some of the Seychelles, including its airfield, may be underwater. So possibly much of the Thai capital Bangkok, home to more than 5 million people; the Dutch cities of Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, combined, are home to about 2 million people; and much of the US Gulf Coast, including parts of major cities such as New Orleans and Texas’s Galveston. These examples are based on map by the Climate Central research group, whose forecasts do not take into account current or future defenses built against rising water levels.

“An estimated 12% of the global population today living on land could be threatened.”

The water will continue to rise in the next century and the next. So, leaping 2,000 years into the future, Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, predicts water levels will be between 13 feet and more than 30 feet above current levels. According to Climate Central map.

Scott Kulp, a principal actuarial scientist at Climate Central, said: “It is estimated that 12% of the global population today living on land could be threatened by sea level rise in the long-term future over the long-term future. 3 degrees Celsius scenario”. “So that number is 810 million people.”

Forecasts through 2100 do not take into account the possibility that the world’s ice sheets will melt rapidly, and even long-term estimates do not suggest a complete collapse as quickly, although it is possible. “The more we push the system above 2 degrees Celsius – but we don’t know how much – the more chance we have of triggering glacial processes that can rapidly raise sea levels,” Kopp explained in a statement. email.

Scary mysteries.

David Mcnew / Getty Images

The church palm tree landscape was destroyed by the Alisal Fire on October 13 near Goleta, California.

Probably most The scary thing about a world 3 degrees warmer is the uncertainty about how it will impact the way our so-called natural carbon sinks – think trees, land and even oceans – regularly and continuously pulls carbon dioxide out of the air. If any one of these sinks stops absorbing as much carbon, more carbon will remain in the atmosphere, fueling global warming.

“We certainly cannot rule out a world 4 degrees warmer.”

Or it’s possible that one of the more permanent carbon sinks could simply disappear. Right now, for example, there’s a layer of frozen soil, called permafrost, that spreads across parts of the planet, including the poles. Collectively, all these permafrost store more carbon than present in the atmosphere. As the planet warms, the permafrost will thaw, releasing some of that carbon into the atmosphere along the way and fueling the warming in a dangerous feedback loop.

“Half of our emissions are now returned to the ground by natural carbon sinks that have operated this decade at the same level of service,” said Georgia Tech’s Cobb. “So going forward, as climate scientists, we are very concerned that we are beginning to understand that there is a real risk that these natural carbon sinks could shut down. as well as at higher levels of warming.”

As the Father of the Breakthrough Institute put it: “The point is, even if we think we’re headed for a world 3 degrees warmer under current policies, we certainly can’t rule out a the world is 4 degrees warmer.” ●

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