Climate change report warns starkly on increasing weather

Experts say places around the world will be hit harder, not only by extreme weather conditions, but also by multiple climate disasters happening simultaneously.

HOUSTON – The Earth is getting so hot that temperatures in a decade or so will likely exceed a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent, according to a report released on Monday that the United Nations called a “code red for humanity.”

Note: Video for this story is from an August 4 broadcast – “The impact of Hurricane Harvey is still evident in many areas almost four years after the flooding”

“It’s just guaranteed to get worse,” said Linda Mearns, co-author of the report, senior climatologist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. “

Decadal storms are becoming more frequent

Heavy precipitation will become more frequent and intense with each degree of warming, the report concludes, because warmer air can simply hold more water.

CNN points out that Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 60 inches of rain over parts of the Houston area in 2017. This prompted the National Weather Service to add two colors to the scale on its precipitation charts – purple for 20-30 inches and pink for over 30 inches.

PDF: You can consult the full report here (note: large file)

“Storms like Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas in 2017, and Hurricane Lane, which flooded Hawaii in 2018, not only hit the coasts with storm surges and destructive winds, but also cause inland downpours. more intense due to global warming, ”CNN reported.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is the chairman of Climate Mayors, tweeted this post in response to Monday’s report.

As the global temperature rises, extreme precipitation events will cause more water to drop and hurricanes will worsen, the report warns.

But scientists have also quieted a little about the likelihood of absolute worst climate disasters.

Carbon emission scenarios

Monday’s authoritative report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which calls climate change clearly man-made and “unequivocal,” makes more precise and warmer predictions for the 21st century than the last time it was released in 2013.

Each of the five scenarios for the future, based on reducing carbon emissions, exceeds the more stringent of the two thresholds set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. World leaders then agreed to try to limit the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above late 19th century levels, as problems quickly escalate thereafter. The world has already warmed by almost 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since then.

In each scenario, according to the report, the world will cross the 1.5 degree Celsius warming mark in the 2030s, earlier than some past predictions. Warming has accelerated in recent years, data shows.

“Our report shows that we must prepare to enter this level of warming in the coming decades. But we can avoid new levels of warming by acting on greenhouse gas emissions, ”said report co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte, climatologist at the French Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences at the University. Paris-Saclay.

In three scenarios, the world will likely also exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times – Paris’ less strict target – with heat waves, droughts and torrential rains much worse. , unless there are big reductions in emissions, the report said.

“This report tells us that recent climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying, unprecedented in thousands of years,” said IPCC Vice Chairman Ko Barrett, Senior Climate Advisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

With crucial international climate talks coming to Scotland in November, world leaders said the report requires them to step up efforts to reduce carbon pollution. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called it a “brutal recall”.

The more than 3,000-page report by 234 scientists said warming is already accelerating sea level rise and worsening extremes such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. Tropical cyclones get stronger and wetter, as arctic sea ice decreases in summer and permafrost melts. All of these trends will get worse, according to the report.

For example, the type of heat wave that only happened once every 50 years now happens once a decade, and if the world warms another degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), that will occur twice every seven years, according to the report.

Several climatic disasters at the same time

As the planet warms, places will be affected more not only by extreme weather conditions, but also by multiple climate disasters at once, according to the report. It’s like what’s happening in the western United States now, where heat waves, drought and wildfires are adding to the damage, Mearns said. The extreme heat is also causing massive fires in Greece and Turkey.

Some of the damage caused by climate change – shrinking ice caps, rising sea levels, and changes in the oceans as they lose oxygen and become more acidic – are “irreversible for centuries or even more. millennia, ”according to the report.

The world is “locked in” to 15 to 30 centimeters (6 to 12 inches) of sea level rise by the middle of the century, said report co-author Bob Kopp from Rutgers University.

Scientists have been sending this message for more than three decades, but the world has not listened, said the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, Inger Andersen.

For the first time, the report offers an interactive atlas allowing people to see what happened and what could happen where they live.

Almost all of the warming that has occurred on Earth can be attributed to emissions of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. At most, natural forces or sheer chance can explain one or two tenths of a degree of warming, depending on the report.

The report describes five different future scenarios based on reducing global carbon emissions. They are: a future with incredibly large and rapid pollution reductions; another with intense but not so massive pollution reductions; a scenario with moderate emission reductions; a fourth scenario in which current plans to reduce pollution slightly continue; and a fifth possible future involving a continuing increase in carbon pollution.

In five previous reports, the world was on this latest hottest track, often dubbed “business as usual”. But this time the world is somewhere between the moderate path and the low pollution reduction scenario due to progress in curbing climate change, said report co-author Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist at the US Pacific Northwest. National Lab.

SETH BORENSTEIN (AP Science Writer) contributed most of this report

CNN contributed to this report


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