December 2, 2009
Bleak Outlook If Temps Rise 7.2 Degrees
If the Earth's temperature rises by a mere seven degrees, the planet would become a very hostile environment. Experts are now warning that a 7.2 F increase is indeed a likely scenario.
If this occurs, oceans would rise 3.25 feet, submerging several island nations. Polar bears would be extinct in the Arctic. Australia would be regularly ravaged by fires. A huge part of the Amazon forest would be decimated. Asia's Himalayan glaciers would almost be completely melted and a fourth of the globe's mammals would be headed towards disappearance.
"A 4.0 C, (7.2 F) increase in global mean temperatures has the potential to threaten human security and quality of life in a manner unprecedented in recent history," says Arizona State University professor Pamela McElwee to AFP.
Francois Gemmene, a scientist at France's Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), noted that: "At 4.0 C, climate-driven migration redraws the map of population distribution across the surface of the globe."
This is not a fluke, scientists insist. On November 16, a worldwide team of scientists, called the Global Carbon Project, announced that carbon emissions had risen 29% from 2000 to 2008.
This is sending the Earth onwards towards a worst-case warming scenario released by the UN's Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Under this scenario, continued use of fossil fuels would result in global warming of 7.2-to-11.5 F by 2100. This would be catastrophic for the Earth's 6.7 billion inhabitants.
"The carrying capacity of the planet could fall to one billion people or less," said John Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, to AFP.
In September, Britain's Met Office, a leading research center that focuses on climate change, said the 7.2 degree rise may arrive by 2060. If this happens, by 2080, three billion people would have difficulty finding clean water.
Globally crops would fail, ensuing in constant hunger for potentially millions.
For biodiversity, "a four degree, (7.2 F) world would be mayhem," said Pavan Sukhdev, an expert on ecosystem economics, said the AFP. Even two degrees, if you break it down, would create regional catastrophes in many places."
The silver lining of this bleak outlook is that there is still time to slow this prediction down if greenhouse-gas emissions hit the highest point soon and then begin to decrease.
Still, this small window of opportunity is shutting quickly.
On the Net:
- Arizona State University professor
- Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations
- Global Carbon Project