According to two climate scientists speaking at the inaugural Innovation Congress in London, the peril facing the Earth is so severe that, on current trends, the Earth will soon no longer be able to support support human life.
Professor Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Sir David King, founder and chair at Cambridge’s Climate Repair Center, said it was not enough to limit global temperatures to 1 5.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is likely to cause an outbreak. point, destroying rainforests and marine life while making large areas around the tropics uninhabitable for human life.
Opening the Non-Innovation Congress in London, Professor Rockstrom and Professor Sir David King, brought current trends into the clearest perspective imaginable.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that the Earth has warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius, with the World Meteorological Organization warning, there is a two-thirds chance that scientists notice 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next five years – although some estimates say it could happen later this year.
Prof Rockstrom told delegates at the inaugural two-day conference in London: “1.5C is not the target. I call it a physical limit.
“The conclusion without any certainty is that a 2.5 degree Celsius increase in the global average surface temperature is a disaster. It’s something that humanity has absolutely no evidence that we can deal with. It would actually exceed the warmest temperature on Earth in the last four million years.
“Push yourself to 2.5 degrees Celsius – we are in unknown terrain. It will lead to the complete melting of the large ice sheets, causing the sea level to rise 10 meters.
“There will be the collapse of all the major biomes on planet Earth – rainforests, many temperate forests – permafrost melts suddenly, we will have a complete collapse of biodiversity. marine animals, we will have a big change in habitability on Earth.
“More than a third of the planet around the equatorial regions would be uninhabitable because you would pass the health threshold, which is about 30 degrees Celsius. Today, only certain parts of the Sahara will have temperatures. such average.
“So in short, that’s where we don’t want to be. The point is, we’re going down that path today.”
He added that how Earth’s natural systems behave after 1.5C is still unknown, and that it will likely trigger five tipping points that cause the Earth to warm uncontrollably leading to disaster. Professor King said three of these tipping points are in the Arctic, which is warming four to five times faster than the rest of the Earth.
Five tipping points have been identified: the melting of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, the melting of the northern polar permafrost, the mass death of tropical coral reefs, and the melting of sea ice. flows in the Bering Sea.
“The biggest fear we have in science is when you cause tipping points, when the system goes from self-cooling to self-heating,” said Professor Rockstrom.
“Today we are the ones causing warming but the nightmare is of course at the time when the planet itself is starting to cause warming and that is something that we must avoid under all circumstances.”
When asked if he had a magic wand to summon any change he would like to see, Professor King said he wanted Earth’s natural systems to be treated with the same respect as human systems. and we learn how to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere on a large scale, while re-freezing the atmosphere. polar regions and the Himalayas.
He added: “That 1.5C target is a must. Honestly, if we’re not below that, talking about raising the temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and then reducing it by removing greenhouse gases, that’s not enough. Too many people will die in that time when we allow the temperature to rise.”
The IPCC states that current climate policies will make the Earth between 2.5 degrees Celsius and 2.7 degrees Celsius warmer by 2100 than the pre-industrial levels that UN member states have committed to. in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit the temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. At the time, the 1.5 degrees Celsius target seemed achievable – but now seems hopelessly unrealistic.