Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Major climate report warns of increasingly extreme weather in coming decades, even if warming emissions are cut

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists convened by the United Nations, has issued many reports on global warming and climate change. The latest sounds an alarm like no previous report. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called it “a code red for humanity.”

"Nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, though there is still a short window to prevent the most harrowing future," The New York Times reports. "Humans have already heated the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, largely by burning coal, oil and gas for energy."

The consequences are already evident in record-breaking heat waves, wildfires, floods and more. "But that’s only the beginning, according to the report," Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain report for the Times. "Even if nations started sharply cutting emissions today, total global warming is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades, a hotter future that is now essentially locked."

What does that mean? "At 1.5 degrees of warming, scientists have found, the dangers grow considerably. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide could swelter in more frequent life-threatening heat waves. Hundreds of millions more would struggle for water because of severe droughts. Some animal and plant species alive today will be gone. Coral reefs, which sustain fisheries for large swaths of the globe, will suffer more frequent mass die-offs."

University of Leeds climatologist Piers Forster, who wrote the report along with hundreds of international scientists, summed it up for the Times: "We can expect a significant jump in extreme weather over the next 20 or 30 years ... Things are unfortunately likely to get worse than they are today."

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