Time is running out to prevent a devastating scenario.
The message is clear: time is running out and humanity must be on red alert for the future.
The most recent report from Working Group 1, part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that the year 2050 is the point of no return for the climate crisis.
The document was presented by the United Nations on August 9, once again highlighting the urgency of taking action against climate change.
Human actions have the potential to determine the future course of the climate and they’re already doing so.
Evidence that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change is clear, although the document states that other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.
“The alarm bells are deafening. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement.
This report shows that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have been responsible for a temperature increase of about 1.1°C since 1850-1900.
The document concludes that over the next 20 years, the average global temperature is expected to rise by another 1.5°C or more.
“We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare,” said IPCC Working Group 1 Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
Climate change is not just about temperature, but about multiple changes across different regions.
These include changes in humidity and droughts, changes in winds, snow, and ice, and changes in coastal areas and the oceans.
Climate change is intensifying the water cycle and precipitation patterns. Here’s what is expected to happen:
The IPCC report predicts at least five scenarios depending on the courses of action humanity takes or stops taking to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
In all of the scenarios, warming will continue for decades at least: one of the reasons for the code red for humanity.
Although the speed at which sea levels rise and the dangerousness of the climate will continue to depend on the decisions the world takes, it is a fact that the Arctic will be almost completely free of sea ice for at least one summer within the next 30 years.
A world in which global CO2 emissions will have been reduced to net zero by 2050.
The Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming at around 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures will have been achieved.
In this optimistic scenario, extreme weather events are more frequent, but the world will have avoided the worst aspects of climate change.
Societies will have become more sustainable, moving from economic growth to general wellbeing.
Global CO2 emissions don’t reach net zero in 2050, but they will have been drastically reduced.
Temperatures stabilize at around 1.8°C higher at the end of the century.
There would be the same socioeconomic changes as in the first scenario, investments in education and health would increase, and inequality would decrease.
In the middle scenario, temperatures would rise by 2.7°C by the end of the century.
CO2 emissions would stay around current levels before starting to decline in the middle of the century, but they wouldn’t reach net zero until 2100.
Socioeconomic factors would continue their historical trends, without any noticeable changes.
Progress towards sustainability would be slow, and development and income would grow unevenly.
You may be interested in: Iceland says ‘goodbye’ to glacier that disappeared as a result of climate change
By the end of the century, the average temperature would rise by 3.6°C. Emissions and temperatures would rise steadily, and CO2 emissions in 2100 would be double those of current levels.
International competition will increase, focusing on national security and securing food supplies.
The future that nobody wants. The global average temperature would rise by 4.4°C by 2100.
Current CO2 emission levels would double by 2050.
The global economy would grow rapidly, but it would feed off the exploitation of fossil fuels and energy-intensive lifestyles.
Regardless of which path humanity decides to take, the effects of global warming are both irreversible and inevitable.
According to the IPCC report, extreme heat waves, which previously occurred only once every 50 years, are now expected to occur once a decade as a result of climate change.
Some of the changes, such as continuous sea level rise, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.
Global warming of just 1.5°C will mean that warm seasons will lengthen, and cold ones will get shorter.
At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, according to the report.
(With information from the IPCC and Reuters)