Climate issues: is it too late to stop climate change?

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BENGALURU, India – Global average temperatures have risen and extreme weather has already seen an uptick, so the short answer to whether 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 effects, experts say.

A 2021 report from the top group of climate scientists provided a new analysis of how lucky the world is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) or 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) since the pre-industrial era in the coming decades, in line with global climate goals.

Although the scientists believed it was still possible to stay within these limits, they said this would require immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The global temperature is more likely to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, according to the report.

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 faces it.

Without major action to reduce emissions, the global average temperature is expected to rise by 2.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, scientists say.

And the researchers warn that the situation will become very serious by then: once the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is reached, there will be increasing heat waves, longer hot seasons and shorter cold seasons. When the 2 degree Celsius mark is crossed, critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health will be reached.

But all hope is not lost, they insist.

At the time of the report’s publication, Friederike Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London, said that reaching the 1.5 degree target “is still possible from a physical science point of view”.

“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 achieve net zero emissions globally by mid-century, there is still a one in three chance of succeeding,” she said. said.

If all human emissions of heat-trapping gases were to stop today, Earth’s temperature would continue to rise for a few decades, but would eventually stabilize, according to climatologists. If humans did not emit additional planet-warming gases, then natural processes would begin to slowly remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and global temperatures would gradually begin to drop.

“There is a direct relationship between lag and warming, and between warming and the risk of what we would call extreme impacts,” said Ajay Gambhir, senior fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, based in London. ‘Imperial College London. “Unfortunately, we are already seeing all of these extreme impacts – whether extreme heat waves, increased risk of crop failure, wildfires or coral reef bleaching – already happening.”

He added: “The longer we delay taking action to fight climate change by reducing our emissions, the warmer the world will get.

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Teresa H. Sadler