Why the latest temperature check on climate change is still terrifying

The latest figures are out on how much our planet is expected to warm this century, and it’s making me sweat.

Look, I’m not a numbers person. And if I didn’t write about climate change as a profession, this latest report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) wouldn’t accomplish the same thing. It says global temperatures this century are on track to rise between 2.5 and 2.9 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial Revolution levels. That statement is a nap, right? Well, this is why I’m stress-eating Corn Pops as I write this.

On Saturday it felt like 139.5 degrees Fahrenheit (59.7 degrees Celsius) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That was the heat index, a measure of both heat and humidity that is crucial because humidity hinders the body’s life-saving ability to cool itself through sweat. The night before, a thousand people reportedly fainted from the heat at a Taylor Swift concert in the city, and one person died. Brazil wetcountries are on fire during this month’s monster spring heat wave.

It felt like 139.5 degrees Fahrenheit (59.7 degrees Celsius) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday

These kinds of things are happening now with just over 1 degree Celsius of global warming. Now imagine a warming of almost 3 degrees. That is the trajectory where countries’ current policies are leading us, according to the UNEP analysis released today called the Emissions Gap Report.

One hopeful caveat is that the outlook was much worse about a decade ago before countries adopted the historic 2015 Paris climate accord. The terrible projection in 2014 was almost 4 degrees of warming this century.

So there is some progress. But not nearly enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and prevent even more extreme events, such as those recently in Brazil. The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times.

Research is beginning to show that these goals may very soon be out of reach. With pollution levels rising, the world could pass that 1.5 degree threshold as early as 2029, according to a study published in the journal last month. Nature Climate change. Preliminary data shows that the average global temperature briefly rose above 2 degrees Celsius on Friday for the first time in history.

That was a brief, if terrifying, breach on Friday. The purpose of the Paris agreement is to prevent this steadily average temperatures so high. But these dangerous side effects of burning fossil fuels are happening much faster than scientists initially expected.

In 2018, United Nations climate experts published a roadmap for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, including achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. While countries are slowly making progress in this area, the chances of success are becoming increasingly smaller. And yet global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to grow over the past year, according to the new UNEP report. A new crucial round of climate negotiations will start on November 30 at the UN conference in Dubai. There, world leaders are expected to debate a possible deal to phase out fossil fuels to halt climate change — let alone the negotiations will be overseen by an oil exec appointed chairman of this year’s climate conference, held in one of the largest oil-producing countries. that US President Joe Biden, head of the world’s largest oil and gas producer, has reportedly decided not to attend.

In any case, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antònio Guterres, is always the optimist. “We know that it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires breaking out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. And it requires a just, equitable transition to sustainable energy,” Guterres said in a press release today.

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