Report: World Cannot Afford 2°C Global Temperature Hike

Nov 28, 2023

Consequences of Temperature Rise

A new report says that the Earth faces a deadly rise in sea levels if the planet’s temperature climbs higher than the threshold of a 1.5 Celsius (°C)  increase above pre-industrial levels. That is the target set by a global climate treaty

Many climate scientists say sticking to the 1.5°C ceiling set by the Paris Agreement in 2016 will be very hard. But the new report from the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) says that reaching a more likely 2°C threshold could lead to a 40-foot sea level increase. The rise would be from melting ice sheets and glaciers.   

That process could take hundreds of years to complete. Once it's begun, it likely can’t be reversed. That would be true even if worldwide temps cooled again, the report says. Large swaths of Earth’s coastal areas would flood under that scenario. Millions of people could be displaced from flooding, according to the report. Also, the report says half of the ice on the Himalayas would be lost. That would ruin farm lands and dry up drinking water for more than 1.5 billion people. The oceans at both poles would become acidified. That would threaten ocean wildlife. And thawing permafrost could release massive amounts of methane. That could warm the planet even further, according to the ICCI report. In fact, methane warms the planet faster than carbon dioxide.     

“We need to put the brakes on (global warming), big time,” an ICCI report reviewer told New Scientist.   

The report’s release comes within days of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai. COP28 starts Thursday. More than 350 experts signed a letter urging all nations going to the summit to make the 1.5°C temperature increase a line that can’t be crossed.  

Reflect: How do you think the choices you make today might impact the future of our planet and the lives of people around the world?

Based on the details in the infographic, if the planet’s temperature reaches a 2.0 Celsius increase above pre-industrial levels, sea-ice-free summers in the arctic will be _______ compared with the planet’s temperature reaching 1.5 Celsius. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. 2 times worse
b. 3 times worse
c. 29 times worse
d. 10 times worse
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