By Thais Lopez Vogel
Some people wonder how much damage could be done by temperature rises above the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit set by the Paris Agreement. Here is the answer.
The Earth is facing a significant threat in the form of climate change, and if we don’t take immediate action to mitigate its effects, the consequences could be dire.
In an effort to address the threat of climate change, the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty, was adopted by 196 nations at COP 21 on December 12, 2015, and officially coming into force on November 4, 2016. The goal of the agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6°F), with a target of limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F) compared to pre-industrial levels.
1.5 degrees may seem like a small increment, but its impact would be significant and long-lasting. As an analogy, let’s remember when we have a fever, just one additional degree can exponentially increase our discomfort.
One of the most significant consequences of this rise in temperature would be the melting of polar ice caps, resulting in a rapid rise in sea levels.
Water and food availability
According to the NASA Sea Level Change Team, “New results show average sea level rise approaching the 1-foot mark for most coastlines of the contiguous U.S. by 2050. The Gulf Coast and Southeast will see the most change.”
Coastal cities and low-lying areas would be at a high risk of flooding, and millions of people would be forced to flee their homes. This displacement of populations would lead to a host of other problems, including food and water shortages, increased poverty, and the spread of diseases.
Another significant impact would be on agriculture. The rising temperature would alter precipitation patterns, causing droughts in some regions and heavy rain and flooding in others.
This would affect crop yields, leading to food shortages and higher prices for staple crops. It would be especially devastating for communities in developing countries that rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
More natural disasters
The rise in temperature would also trigger other environmental changes, such as increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires.
As the New Scientist magazine states, “By 2050, days with extreme wildfires in California could become 57 per cent more frequent even in a warming scenario with low greenhouse gas emissions. With very high emissions, days with extreme fire could nearly triple by the end of the century.”
The loss of biodiversity and the extinction of many plant and animal species would have far-reaching consequences, both for the planet’s ecosystems and for human well-being.
Let’s take action now
We must take immediate and sustained action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. The time for action is now, and we must work together as a global community to protect our planet and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.