The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific body, released a long-awaited report on the Earth’s prospect for keeping climate change to a manageable level. The findings are terrifying, yet hopeful.
First, the bad news.
Many countries have embraced a goal of keeping warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius. But we’re on track to a 2 degree or greater rise. That may sound like a small difference, but it’s enormous.
The frequency of extremely hot days is expected to be considerably higher at a 2 degrees increase. The global mean sea level is likely to rise a tenth of a meter more, affecting about 10 million additional people. There will be more droughts in some regions and heavier rainfall and flooding in others.
The report also predicts bigger drops in yields of major food crops than previously projected, and estimates that up to 50 percent more people will be affected by water scarcity. Risks from heat-related illnesses, malaria and dengue fever are higher, too.
All told, the number of people exposed to climate change effects and associated increases in poverty at a 2-degree rise is “several hundred million more” by 2050.
What a difference a half degree makes.