We will definitely remember 2020 as a yearlockdowns and the fight against COVID-19, but there is one more thing to watch out for - the heat. Last year, from Siberia to the southwest of the United States, temperatures were approaching record values and in some places even exceeding them. The records that were set testify, alas, not to single waves of heat, but to an alarming trend of constant rise in temperatures around the globe. The obvious culprit is climate change - an ongoing process of gradual warming due to human activities. Unfortunately, today carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow, which means that the world will inevitably face new records and other, more dangerous consequences. However, how hot it will be in the future, researchers find it difficult to say. This is partly due to the fact that the future temperature rise on Earth still depends to some extent on us. When and how quickly we start limiting emissions plays a large role in the evolution of global warming.
Climate change - what you need to know?
Despite the fact that the climate on our planethas always changed, the current temperature changes are directly related to human activities. As the authors of the report titled "Alert to scientists of the world about a climate emergency", which was signed by more than 11 thousand scientists from around the world in 2019, "the climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated and threatens natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity. "
The purpose of the report, as noted by one of its authors ininterview with British The Guardian, is to establish a full range of indicators of "vital signs" about the causes and consequences of a rapidly changing climate, and not just about CO2 emissions and rising temperatures directly on the surface.
Among the indicators influencingglobal warming, the report's authors highlight population growth, deforestation, sea level rise, energy consumption, fossil fuel subsidies and annual economic losses from extreme weather events. I talked in more detail about the report and the problem of climate change in this article.
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What future do climate models predict?
When it comes to climate change, the besta diagram showing the events taking place on the planet is presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), led by the United Nations (UN). The IPCC publishes a comprehensive report on global warming about once a decade, and it is one of the best sources of climate data and forecasts.
The last full report came out in 2014, andthe next one is scheduled for 2022, which is not far off. These reports are based on the work of hundreds of climatologists around the world and include climate updates as well as future predictions based on sophisticated climate models. You can read more about the latest IPEC report on the oceans of the Earth here.
See also: Which countries will be hit hardest by climate change?
One of the cornerstones of the report iswhat researchers call Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs, or RCPS). These are several different climate scenarios based on different levels of emissions, from optimistic ones, which assume that we are acting quickly, to more alarming ones, which assume that we are doing nothing. IPCC researchers currently believe that the consequences of a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would be disastrous.
In turn, keeping the warming lowerthe target will require the world to adhere to one of the more optimistic RCP scenarios, called RCP2.6. This is an achievable goal, but only if all the countries that signed the Paris Climate Agreement start to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions right now (well, technically we should have started in 2020). In a more intermediate scenario, called RCP4.5, emissions begin to decline in 2045. This will keep the average temperature from rising between 1.5 ° C - 3 ° C degrees.
If we fail to achieve anysignificant progress in reducing emissions, then by 2100 the planet may be warming by 3-5 degrees. This number is often cited in the news as a plausible result, although some climatologists warn that this is more of an upper bound and is unlikely to happen.
You will be interested: What will the world be like in 2050, if climate change does not stop?
Consequences of global warming
Overall, researchers believe that by 2100the temperature on the planet will rise from 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius, but the likelihood that in the future humanity will live in the very real hell is somewhere in the middle of this range and is considered the most likely scenario. But wherever we find ourselves in 79 years, the consequences are sure to be drastic, no matter what the thermometer reads.
Our planet has already become about 1.5degrees warmer since pre-industrial times, which is the most common baseline when it comes to global warming. This 1.5 degree change has already caused sea levels to rise by about 7.5 inches and massive ice sheets are losing 1.3 trillion tonnes a year. This disrupted global weather patterns, leading to more intense storms, droughts, heatwaves and other natural disasters. Another degree of warming could be devastating.
Scientists are already predicting that future thermalthe waves will threaten millions of lives around the world every year. Climate refugees are projected to increasingly leave the equator, raising concerns about migration crises in cooler countries where they move. Coastal cities including New York, Miami, Jakarta, Lagos and others will have to adapt, and population displacement could change the demographics of the United States and other countries forever.
Interesting: Climate change could fry cities by 2100
It is important to note that global changestemperatures are just average values. In some places, the warming can be much more extreme. Of course, this is not the first time the Earth has warmed up. Throughout the history of our planet, there have been many places where temperatures (and carbon dioxide levels) were higher than they are now. What distinguishes the current era is the speed at which change is taking place. Temperatures heat up significantly over hundreds of years, not tens or hundreds of thousands.