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Emissions Cuts Could Prevent Two-Thirds Of Climate Change Effects

Coal-fired power plant

In not-so-surprising news, yet another study has found that the world could avoid a pretty big portion of the damaging effects of climate change this century if we take much sharper measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study is a comprehensive assessment of the benefits of cutting emissions to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by next century. Climate scientists say breaching that level will lead to some of the most damaging and irreversible effects. It found that up to 65% of negative impacts such as flooding and drought could be avoided if we start taking a much more serious approach toward developing renewables.

As of right now, current emissions reduction targets are still leading us to a temperature rise of 4 degrees or more by the end of the century.

Some of the severe effects our children and grandchildren could experience include extreme heat waves across the United States and Middle East, sea levels rising as much as 3 feet, more severe storms, and extreme flooding in many countries.

Scientists examined a range of emissions-cutting scenarios to determine the various impacts, and the strictest scenario kept temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius, with emissions peaking in 2016 and declining as much as 5% a year up until 2050. If warming is limited to 2 degrees, flooding could be reduced as much as 65% by 2100, and sea level rise could be reduced to 12 inches by 2100.

Currently, about 190 countries are planning on signing a deal by 2015 that will legally bind them to emission cuts starting in 2020. That’s a start, and assuming these countries are ready to get serious and put their money and resources to work.

Image CC licensed by Señor Codo: Coal-fired power plant.

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