Global warming may be worse than predicted - Activate World

Global warming may be worse than predicted

Storyline:

New research indicates that global warming may be twice as hot as climate models projected. Even if the world meets the 2°C target proposed by the Paris Climate Agreement, sea levels may rise six meters or more, according to an international team of researchers from 17 countries.

The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, are based on observational evidence from three warm periods over the past 3.5 million years when the world was 0.5°C-2°C warmer than the pre-industrial temperatures of the 19th Century. By combining measurements from ice cores, sediment layers, fossil records, dating using atomic isotopes, and many other established paleoclimate methods, the researchers pieced together the impact of those climatic changes.

In their observations, the team saw that there are “amplifying mechanisms,” not well-represented in climate models, which make long-term warming worse than what is forecasted in climate models. Climate models appear to be most trustworthy for small changes, such as for low-emission scenarios over short periods.

“The changes we see today are much faster than anything encountered in Earth’s history. In terms of rate of change, we are in uncharted waters,” said study co-author Katrin Meissner of the University of New South Wales in Australia.

Noteworthy:

  • The first prediction that the planet would warm as humans released more carbon dioxide was made in 1896.
  • A new study from MIT shows that one of the world’s most densely populated regions, the North China Plain, may be uninhabitable by the end of this century due to deadly heat waves.
  • The rate at which Antarctica is shedding ice has tripled over the past decade, and the West Antarctic ice sheet is so voluminous that it will add more than 10 feet of sea-level rise alone if it catastrophically collapses.

Quests and Actions (Q&A):

  • How can global warming skeptics dispute the hard evidence, including studies that use radioactivity to distinguish industrial emissions from natural emissions, that proves the extra gas is coming from human activity?
  • A report from the medical journal The Lancet says global warming is already affecting human health, with harms “far worse than previously understood.” Do health professions have a responsibility to alert us to a phenomenon that is central to human well-being?
  • Some experts say that from a technology and economics standpoint, it is still possible to stay under two degrees Celsius. How can we help activate our business and policy leaders to take the actions necessary to protect the planet?
Sources: MIT News, NASA, NYTimes, NYTimesScienceDaily,Tech Times
Photo by Matt Broch on Unsplash