We're Now Committed to 1.4 - 4.3°C Warming by 2100 - But That's No Reason Not to Act!

unep climate change compendium image
New UNEP analysis serves as an update to the last IPCC report on climate change from two years ago and really should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thinks climate change isn't happening and fast: After reviewing more than 400 studies done in the past two years, the report concludes that because of faster-than-predicted carbon emissions growth we are now committed to at least 1.4°C of warming by 2100 and as much as 4.3°C.

Saying that the "pace and the scale of climate change is accelerating, along with the confidence among researchers in their forecasts," the UNEP stresses that scientists are increasingly saying that some climate changes are really becoming commitments. In other words, even once we stabilize emissions these changes will still occur:Faster and Sooner Than Expected Changes Happening
Citing the continued expansion of a globalized economy dependent on high-carbon fuels, and increasing signs that carbon sinks like oceans and forests are becoming less capable of absorbing more carbon, the report says,

...these changes characterize a carbon cycle that is generating stronger-than-expected and sooner-than-expected climate forcing, including faster sea-level rise, ocean acidification, melting Arctic sea ice cover, warming polar land masses, freshening ocean currents, and shifts in circulation patterns in the atmosphere and oceans.

OK, that's the grim part. The report also concludes that the worst possible scenarios can be prevented by "immediate, cohesive and decisive action to both cut emissions and assist vulnerable countries adapt."

So, even though we may have set the planet on a course that will result in a different climate than the one we've all grown used to, and has been conducive to human life for so many, many years, that's not an excuse for inaction. We still have a fighting chance...

via: Environmental Science & Technology, Yale e360
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