DATE: October 4, 2018
SNIP: Nearly every day, peer-reviewed studies on global warming warn that deadly impacts will come sooner and hit harder than once thought.
Virtually none, however, suggest that previous predictions of future heatwaves, droughts, storms, floods or rising seas were overblown.
And so, as the world’s nations huddle in South Korea to validate the first major UN assessment of climate science in five years, one might ask: have we underestimated the threat of global warming?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on capping the rise in Earth’s surface temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels has not been finalised, with delegates predicting the five-day meet—due to end Friday—will go deep into overtime.
But a new draft of the 28-page summary for policymakers, obtained by AFP, makes it alarmingly clear that the two-degree ceiling long seen as the guardrail for a climate-safe world is no longer viable.
With only one degree Celsius of warming so far, the planet is reeling from a crescendo of lethal and costly extreme weather events made worse by climate change.
“Things that scientists have been saying would happen further in the future are happening now,” Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, told AFP.
“We thought we had more time, but we don’t.”
“Many scientists have long known that human-induced climate change could have dire consequences,” said Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a professor of climatology at Universite Catholique de Louvain, and a former IPCC vice-chair.
“Those who have underestimated the severity of climate change are mostly policymakers.”