According to research published in the journal Nature, global temperatures in some parts of the world could exceed the “safe” rise of 2 degrees Celsius during many of our lifetimes, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
According to the paper, “Large parts of Eurasia, North Africa and Canada could potentially experience individual five-year average temperatures that exceed the 2 degree Celsius threshold by 2030 – a timescale that is not so distant.”
Industrialized nations have decided on the maximum limit for warming to be 2 degrees celsius, in order for the world to avoid dangerous climate change that would lead to more droughts, floods and rising seas. Although, some experts say it is safer to not go above 1.5 degree range.
A widely recognized truth among scientists is that current global pledges for greenhouse gas cuts are not strong enough to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. Next month, nations are scheduled to meet at a U.N. climate summit in South Africa, and the likelihood for a pact to reduce emissions does not appear to be on the agenda. If a pact does become a priority, it’s likely that it will not emerge until 2014 or 2015.
The data published in the journal found that by 2060, most of the world’s land surface is highly likely to experience five-year average temperatures that exceed the 2 degrees Celsius mark. If emissions are lowered significantly, the threshold could be delayed by several decades, if we’re lucky.
On the flip side, even if global temperatures are stabilized by serious emissions cuts, it will likely still not be possible for some regions of the world to avoid warming and extreme events such as extreme heatwaves.
According to another study at Zurich’s Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the UK’s Met Office Hadley Center, it is already challenging for nations to limit temperature rises to 2 degrees. Emissions will likely have to peak before the year 2020 and fall by 44 gigatons of carbon dioxide in that same time frame.
Image CC licensed by Dennis Jernberg: Heat wave