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As John Schwartz reported for the New York Times, for more than 40 years, scientists have had an idea of how much greenhouse gases will warm our planet. They’ve expressed the answer as a range of possible temperature increases, between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, that will result from carbon dioxide levels doubling from preindustrial times.
But now, as Science Daily explained, the most advanced and comprehensive analysis of climate sensitivity yet undertaken has revealed with more confidence than ever before how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to carbon dioxide. The new research finds that the true climate sensitivity is unlikely to be in the lowest part of the 1.5-4.5°C range and will likely fall within 2.6°C to 4.1°C, with a best estimate of slightly above 3°C.
With the Earth’s temperature already at around 1.2°C above preindustrial levels, if greenhouse gas emissions trajectories continue unabated the world can expect to see a doubling of carbon dioxide in the next 60-80 years.
Why This Matters: This study narrows the possible range of temperatures the world can expect as a result of climate change and underscores how immediate threat if the climate crisis. Additionally, for those who have doubted how much humans can contribute to climate change, this new data dispels that line of thought. Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, who was not an author of the report but who was one of its earlier outside reviewers told the New York Times, “It would be great if the skeptics were right. But it’s pretty clear that the data don’t support that contention.”
About the Study: As Science Magazine explained, Humanity has already emitted enough CO2 to be halfway to the doubling point of 560 parts per million, and many emissions scenarios have the planet reaching that threshold by 2060.
The report underscores the risks of that course: It rules out the milder levels of warming sometimes invoked by those who would avoid emissions cuts.
“For folks hoping for something better, those hopes are less grounded in reality,” says David Victor, a climate policy researcher at the University of California, San Diego, who was not part of the study.
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer Climate change is, of course, a global phenomenon, but out of the contiguous United States, the Northeast is experiencing it particularly severely. As Kate Olson recently reported in Civil Eats, farmers in Maine are “struggl[ing]” with this “new, harsher climate reality” that includes even more deeply unpredictable weather events […]
by Julia Pyper, host and producer of Political Climate John Podesta has had a long and distinguished career in American politics. The veteran Democrat official recalls a time when Members of Congress were open to working across the political aisle, the debate was healthy and the resulting policies were less prone to repeal. But today […]
As Electrek reported, a new UN report has shown that if households around the world stop using poorly made air conditioning units in addition to ensuring they’re manufactured twice as efficiently as they are now, this would make a significant contribution to keeping to the Paris Agreement’s targets of a global temperature rise of 1.5C […]
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