Our planet is facing something that humanity has never before seen, and we are likely to be shocked by the results.
For years, scientists have held up the figure 2 degrees Celsius as the magic number for our planet. It’s a figure first proposed in 1975 as the upper threshold that our global temperatures can rise before the climate would become unrecognizable to use humans. And as more research comes in, it’s looking less and less likely that we’ll keep the global temperature from rising that high in the coming decades.
The global temperature has risen by almost 1 degree Celsius since 1880, and the effects on the planet have been profound, from melting ice to ocean levels rising to worsening heat waves. Even if you haven’t noticed it, rest assured farmers have in their crops and livestock. And that’s with a 1C increase.
If it’s a 2C shift, look at it this way: the planet was 2C colder than the industrial revolution during the ice age, when North America was covered in an ice sheet that reached down to New York. If we go 2C in the other direction, it will create a planet that is largely unrecognizable to us.
Is it possible to stay below 2C? It appears less and less likely, as there are simply too many skeptics in positions of power who determined to strip away any progress toward dealing with the issue.
As noted by the Guardian, scientists are a bit gloomy: “Sabine Fuss, of Germany’s Mercator Research Institute, on Global Commons and Climate Change says emissions are currently “not aligned” with the 2C target and will need to “come down more quickly”. Joanna Haigh, co-director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and Environment, thinks there is “no chance whatsoever at current levels of carbon emissions”, and her Grantham Institute colleague, Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, is not “confident” that temperature rises can be held below 2C.”