What you need to know:
- By January this year, the earth had a 50 per cent chance of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, equal to about six years of emissions
The earth is likely to hit the 1.5-degree Celsius temperature limit for global warming earlier, in 2029, if humans fail to bring down the current rate of fossil fuel burning. The result will be a dramatic increase in disasters, loss of coral reefs, water shortages, heat waves and death.
This is according to a new study by Nature Climate Change, which states that the earth is on its way to exhausting its threshold to release carbon dioxide while still keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.
This is known as the carbon budget. By January this year, the earth had a 50 per cent chance of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, equal to about six years of emissions.
The study set the earth’s carbon budget at 250 billion metric tonnes, a figure that the earth is likely to exceed in the next few years as it produces 40 billion metric tonnes yearly. This figure also continues to rise.
“It’s not that the fight against climate change will be lost after six years, but I think probably if we’re not already on a strong downward trajectory, it will be too late to fight for that 1.5-degree limit,” said Robin Lamboll, the study’s lead author.
Lamboll added that there is a possibility that the temperature change could happen earlier or later than 2029, but will surely take place once the earth exhausts its carbon budget. “We don’t want this to be interpreted as six years to save the planet. If we are able to limit warming to 1.6 degrees or 1.65 degrees or 1.7 degrees, that’s a lot better than 2 degrees. We still need to fight for every tenth of a degree,” said Christopher Smith, the study’s co-author.
Already, the earth is feeling the effects of global warming, including heat waves, severe storms, increased drought, a warming and rising ocean and loss of plant and animal species.