But Breakthrough says warming will be much higher because the number does not include long-term carbon cycle feedback loops such as warmer soil releasing more carbon. The think tank explored these views more fully in a report last year.
Why does this all sound a lot worse than the reports by the UN climate science panel? Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC have an inherent degree of conservatism built into them, partly due to the years-long review process involved in putting them together , but also because the summaries of the reports have to be signed off by governments.
What do other researchers think about the claims? Mark Maslin of University College London says the report adds to the deep concerns expressed by security experts such as the Pentagon over climate change. Because of past delay there is now no alternative but to really rapidly cut emissions if we are to still stay within this target. Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas scientists are concerned about, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons CFCs all cause significant additional heating.
Methane, in particular, is the second largest contributor to global heating after CO 2. Each tonne emitted can cause approximately 28 times as much warming as CO 2 over a 20 year period, but a massive 84 times as much over years!
The oil and gas industry, waste sector and agriculture contribute heavily to the amount of methane in our atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years. Globally, the past four years , , and have been the hottest on record , and the 20 warmest have all occurred in the past 22 years.
As global temperatures rise we see an increase in extreme weather events such as heatwaves. If we carry on burning fossil fuels, such extreme heatwaves will become an average summer for Europe by and almost all summers will be hotter than that by ! As shown in this graph:. These changes represent a big step into the unknown. Overall, climate change is already having severe impacts and making extreme weather more likely across the world. World Meteorological Organization data shows that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of extreme weather disasters around the globe.
By far the largest proportion of these are from air pollution. Globally, 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air , ambient air pollution is responsible for 4.
Most of these deaths occur in low-middle income countries and are largely preventable by using modern technologies, such as cleaner fuels or electricity to replace inefficient solid-fuel burning cookstoves , or solar powered lights instead of kerosene lamps. The vast majority of these deaths are due to exposure to air pollution, mostly from small particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs. Young children, those with preexisting health conditions such as asthma and old people are particularly vulnerable.
Exposure to air pollutants has been linked to a huge range of diseases, from lung cancer and respiratory infections to stroke, dementia and even diabetes! Summary of health outcomes and biomarkers known to be affected by exposure to air pollution, from Thurston et al. Water withdrawals grew at almost twice the rate of population increase in the twentieth century. The global water cycle is intensifying due to climate change. A UN report highlights that at present, an estimated 3. Rising temperatures will melt at least one-third of the Himalayan glaciers by the end of the century even if we limit the global temperature rise to 1.
Melting glaciers in both the Andes and the Himalayas threatens the water supplies of hundreds of millions of people living downstream. A severe drought in Cape Town in led to severe water restrictions being put in place. Climate scientists have now calculated that climate change has already made a drought this severe go from a one in year event to being a one in a hundred year event. Sea level is rising faster in recent decades. Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers; and the expansion of seawater as it warms.
Sea level rise will cause inundation of low lying land, islands and coastal cities globally. As sea levels rise higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur much more often , causing severe disruption to coastal communities, and even rendering some areas unusable within the time frame of a typical home mortgage. The land ice sheets in both Antarctica and Greenland have been losing mass. Both ice sheets have seen an increase in the rate of ice mass loss since The World Meteorological Organisation recently reported that between , sea levels rose by 5mm per year , massively accelerated over the average 3.
If they are correct, this would lock in around a metre of sea level rise. If we continue warming, we risk triggering the collapse of more sectors of the ice-sheets. Unfortunately, the data now show us that we have underestimated the climate crisis in the past.
This will affect marine life from shellfish to whole coral reef communities by removing needed minerals that they use to grow their shells. The oceanic conditions will be unlike anything marine ecosystems have experienced for the last 14 million years. Present ocean acidification is occurring approximately ten times faster than anything experienced during the last million years, jeopardising the ability of ocean systems to adapt.
Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of Summer Arctic sea ice is predicted to disappear almost completely by the middle of this century if emissions continue at higher rates. Scientists are now investigating connections between the huge changes we have seen in the Arctic and changes to the jet stream resulting in increasingly dramatic impacts on extreme weather events at lower latitudes.
Minimum sea ice extent at the end of the melt season on 18 September , the second lowest ever measured, compared to median extent between These pollutants can also dramatically affect aquatic ecosystems, for example, through eutrophication promoted by the accumulation of nutrients in lakes and coastal waters which severely impacts biodiversity and fisheries.
Ocean dead zones, areas with zero oxygen, have quadrupled in size since , suffocating the organisms that live in those areas. It takes about years to form 2. Soil erosion and degradation has increased dramatically due to the human activities of deforestation for agriculture, overgrazing and use of agrochemicals. Just ask Copernicus about his faith in the truth of Genesis after his discovery about the true astrological role of the earth.
What Is Truth?
Or, thirdly, consider the example of the United States:. To put the last section in a slogan: loyalty to people is usually more important than loyalty to the truth. The intellectual tends to forget the basis: we can be more loyal to tribes than to the truth, because we prioritize people over accuracy. Loyalty gives life meaning purpose.
Truth Never Changes: Earth Changes
Despite the technological progress of our age, our lives today are in the end no less subject to accident, frustrated ambition, heartbreak, anxiety or death. Even in modern times, humans still have a great need for myths, good stories, strong images and beautiful concepts. For belonging and transcendence.
Another reason why anti-intellectualism is so widespread might be, as economist Tyler Cowen suggests , that the contemporary world is giving us more truth than is good for us. An informed people can become a cynical bunch, and be willing to support reactionary leaders.
If you doubt that truth itself is the problem, just ask yourself: How much would it demoralize you to read the truth about yourself, all day long? Even if most but not all of those reports were positive? That, in a nutshell, is the predicament of the West. All this points to a strategic-psychological lesson for those on a mission to change the world. People can be willing to give up their reality, but that usually starts with stimulating their imagination. If we want to change not just high school textbooks but the reality people experience and live, then it is good to realize the first step might start with an image or a myth rather than with a fact.
For most people, in most tribes, the desire to remain comfortably untouched by reality is just as deeply entrenched — to say the least — as the wish to get things right. Being maximally truthful is not automatically an achievement everyone is happy with. And pleas for positivistic service to facts will not help in a world dominated by a species that is unable to tolerate much truth.
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