Tuesday, 1 August 2017

New Studies Show - Goals of Paris Climate Accord Unlikely to be Achieved. by Larry Powell

Wildfires in Portugal. Wikimedia Commons.
Two new studies paint a sobering picture for the future of the Earth in a changing climate.

One report by a team of American scientists estimates there’s only a five percent chance that global warming can be kept below 2 degrees celsius by 2100. On the other hand, there’s a 95 percent likelihood the increase will be more like 2 to 4.9 degrees! That upper range would generally be considered by many experts as catastrophic for life on earth. And it would clearly represent a failure of the Paris Climate Accord. 

That agreement, signed last year, commits almost 200 member countries, including Canada, to limit the increase to “well under 2 degrees” above pre-industrial levels. Achieving that goal, adds the study, “will require carbon intensity to decline much faster than in the recent past.”

The second study (done jointly by a researcher with the Max Planck Institute in Germany and another from the University of Colorado), makes similar findings. Future warming, which “will likely exceed 1.5 degrees” is inevitable even in “the unreasonably optimistic scenario of an abrupt halt to fossil-fuel emissions.” That’s because of carbon dioxide emissions already in the atmosphere from our long-standing reliance on oil, gas and coal. And neither the ability of the ocean to absorb excess heat, nor the presence of aerosols in the air, will be enough to offset that net increase in temperature. Aerosols are tiny, manmade particles which tend to cool the planet. In that unlikely event of a sudden end to fossil fuel burning, those particles would quickly wash out of the atmosphere. But the C02 would remain. 

A leading US environmentalist, Bill McKibben told CNN, "These studies are part of the emerging scientific understanding that we're in even hotter water than we'd thought. We're a long ways down the path to disastrous global warming, and the policy response - especially in the US has been pathetically underwhelming."

Both studies were published this week in the prestigious journal, “Nature - Climate Change.”

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