Destination: Earth +6°C
As the UN climate talks (COP18) open in Qatar, a UK climate activist sends reminder to Doha: if governments allow very high emissions, the world could be heading towards 6°C global warming by 2100.
Please let me know beforehand if you would like to use my photographs. Copyright © Adela Nistora (www.adelanistora.com)
See '4 degrees' version here.
Please read below and share to inform and to raise awareness. It is critical that everyone understands the scale and urgency of the problem.
CLIMATE CHANGE OVER THE NEXT 100 YEARS
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that temperatures will increase by up to 6°C over the next hundred years. The key uncertainty here is not how the atmosphere will behave, but how humans will behave. Will seven or more billion humans continue to seek fuel-hungry lifestyles, with cars, aeroplanes, and all the rest? Or will they develop cleaner energy sources and tread more lightly on the planet?
Here’s what – if they happen – each of these degree rises in temperature might mean for the planet and our society:
•Deserts invade the High Plains of the United States, in a much worse repeat of the 1930s dustbowl. While the epicentre is Nebraska, states from Ontario in the north to Texas in the south suffer severe agricultural losses.
•Africa’s highest peaks lose their ice. This affects downstream water supply, wildlife and bio-diversity.
•The Gulf Stream switches off – perhaps plunging Britain and Europe into icy winter cold.
•Rare species, like forest-dwelling frogs, possums and tree kangaroos, are wiped out in Queensland rainforest, Australia, as warming erodes their habitat.
•Coral reefs around the world suffer increasing losses from bleaching and are wiped out, with the Great Barrier Reef largely destroyed by 2030.
•Island nations submerge under the rising seas, threatening the lives of ¼ million people on Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tokelau and the Maldives.
•Oceans turn increasingly acidic, further hitting coral reefs and endangering the marine ecosystem.
•Greenland tips into irreversible melt, accelerating sea-level rise and threatening coastal cities around the world.
•One summer in two has heat waves as strong as 2003’s disaster in Europe.
•Drought, fire and searing heat strike the Mediterranean basin.
•Declining snowfalls threaten water supplies in California.
•Monsoons increase in India and Bangladesh leading to mass migration.
•Polar bears, walruses and other ice-dependent marine mammals become extinct in the Arctic as the icecap disappears.
•A third of species worldwide face extinction as the climate changes.
•The Kalahari desert spreads across Botswana, engulfing the capital in sand dunes, and driving millions of refugees out to surrounding countries.
•A permanent El Niño grips the Pacific, causing weather chaos around the world, and drought in the Amazon.
•Water runs short in Perth, Sydney and other parts of Australia away from the far north and south.
•Agriculture shifts into the far north – Norway’s growing season becomes like southern England is today. But with declines in the tropics due to heat and drought, the world tips into net food deficit.
•Hurricanes strike the tropics that are half a category stronger than today’s, with higher wind speeds and rainfall. Wind speeds in the strongest storms could rise to 200 miles per hour.
•The Indus River runs dry due to glacial retreat in the Himalayas, forcing millions of refugees to flee Pakistan. Possible nuclear conflict with India over water supply.
•The whole Amazonian ecosystem collapses in a conflagration of fire and destruction – desert and savannah eventually take over where the world’s largest rainforest once stood. Huge amounts of carbon pour into the atmosphere, adding another degree to global warming.
•Most of the Nile Delta is threatened by rising seas, as a third of Bangladesh. Tens of millions more become climate refugees.
•Southern Europe becomes like the Sahara, with deserts spreading in Spain and Portugal. People move north into temperate refuges in Scandinavia and the British Isles, which become increasingly overcrowded, resulting in further conflict.
•Major cities such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Boston, New York and London are inundated.
•West Antarctica ice sheet potentially collapses, pumping five metres of water into global sea levels.
•All glaciers disappear from the Alps, further reducing water supplies in central Europe.
•Permafrost melt in the Siberia releases billions of tonnes of methane and carbon dioxide, meaning that global warming spirals upward.
•Earth hotter than at any time for 55 million years.
•Desert belts expand from the subtropics into temperate regions.
•Methane hydrate is released from underneath the oceans, sparking tsunamis in coastal regions and pushing global warming into an unstoppable spiral.
•Civilization collapses as humanity is unable to cope.
•Much of the world in uninhabitable.
•Mass extinction scenario: the end-Permian mass extinction 251 million years ago was associated with six degrees of warming, and wiped out 90% of life on earth. No one is sure what happened, but a combination of volcanic CO2 releases and methane hydrates may have been the cause. (This was much worse than the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, 65 million years ago, which wiped out the dinosaurs.)
•Huge firestorms sweep the planet as methane hydrate fireballs ignite.
•Seas turn anoxic (without oxygen) and release poisonous hydrogen sulphide.
•Humanity’s very survival as a species is in question.
(Note: this list is from Collin’s Gem - Carbon Counter and it is a very potted summary of a book called Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas, published in 2007)
If none of this sounds very appealing then help to avoid these disasters by reducing your contribution to climate change. It's not too late to act but time is rapidly running out.
The target of TWO DEGREES has been fixed as a danger line that must not be crossed. The upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350 parts per million (ppm). Today’s level of CO2 is 390 ppm (co2now.org/current-co2/co2-now/)