Written By: Emma Websdale
Failure of curbing carbon emissions could destroy the climate within a generation scientists have warned.
Results from a recent study published in the journal Nature, warn us that five billion people will suffer from extreme climates before 2050 if carbon emissions continue growing at their current rate.
By using the minimum and maximum temperatures in 1860 to 2005 from 39 Earth System Models to outline the historic bounds of climate variability, researchers from the University of Hawaii projected an index showing when different locations around the globe would fall outside these extreme records over the next 100 years.
Calculating the average from these locations, the researchers concluded that by 2047, over half of the world’s population would experience average temperatures hotter than anything experienced between 1860 and 2005. The study says its consequences will see increased food and water shortages, conflicts and infectious diseases as well as economic threats.
“The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon”, said Camilo More, lead author of the study. “Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”
The scientists warn that tropical communities –countries least responsible for climate change and those less able to respond would be hit first, raising concern for tropical dwelling species and ecosystems.
Models predicted that Jakarta would feel record temperature extremes by 2029 and Columbia would experience the same severities in 2033.
“This work demonstrates that we are pushing the ecosystems of the world out of the environment in which they evolved into wholly new conditions that they may not be able to cope with. Extinctions are likely to result”, warns Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology.
He added, “Some ecosystems may be able to adapt, but for others, such as coral reefs, complete loss of not only individual species but their entire integrity is likely.”
The scientists urge that great efforts from developed countries including reductions in carbon emissions and extensive funding for conservation programs are mandatory in tackling climate change. The study found that stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions would push this date back to 2069.
“Scientists have repeatedly warned about climate change and its likely effects on biodiversity and people,” said Mora.
“Our study shows that such changes are already upon us. These results should not be reason to give up. Rather, they should encourage us to reduce emissions and slow the rate of climate change. This can buy time for species, ecosystems, and ourselves to adapt to the coming changes.”
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