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Latest Understanding of the Consequences of Global Warming

This past week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report on the impacts of climate change, entitled SR15- Global Warming of 1.5°C.  Some facts/highlights:

  • Human activities have already resulted in a 1.0°C average global increase in temperature.
  • At current rates, global warming will likely reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052.
  • To keep global warming at or below 1.5°C, we will need a 45% decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (below 2010 levels)by 2030. 
    • To achieve this, we need “deep emissions reductions in all sectors”.
  • To keep global warming at or below 2.0°C, we will need a 20% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.
    • 2.0°C is regarded as a failure, resulting in catastrophic impacts to the world.  Compared to a rise of 1.5°C, a 2.0°C rise would result in:
      • Extreme warming would occur in major populated areas in North America, Europe and Asia.
        • 420M more people would be exposed to extreme heat waves.
        • 65M more people would be exposed to exceptional heat waves.
      • The Arctic Ocean would be 100% ice free in the summer, triggering further warming.
      • Sea levels would rise 10 cm more, assuming Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets remain relatively intact.
      • Losing Greenland and a small portion of Antarctica could raise levels by 6m to 45m, which would be catastrophic to coastlines and island nations.
      • Coral Devastation – 99% loss, compared to 70%at 1.5°C.
      • Increased rain and storm intensity.  Canada, in particular, is singled out as getting significantly more rain.
      • Reduced crop yields
      • Larger divide between rich and poor.

The conclusion is that we are running out of time.  We need to act now, not only for our children and grandchildren, but for us.