Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues gloomy report at meeting in Incheon, South Korea. The Associated Press ·
Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday. But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge.
The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea.
In the 728-page document, the UN organization detailed how Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just a half degree Celsius from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of one degree. Among other things:
- Half as many people would suffer from lack of water.
- There would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases.
- Seas would rise nearly 10 centimetres less.
- Half as many animals with backbones and plants would lose the majority of their habitats.
- There would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.
- The West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting.
- And it just may be enough to save most of the world’s coral reefs from dying.
More ambitious goal would require dramatic changes
“For some people this is a life-or-death situation, without a doubt,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the report.
Limiting warming to 0.5 degrees from now means the world can keep “a semblance” of the ecosystems we have. Adding another 0.5 degrees on top of that — the looser global goal — essentially means a different and more challenging Earth for people and species, said another of the report’s lead authors, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia.
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