What if we do noth­ing on global warm­ing?

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

PARIS: If mankind fails to cur­tail global warm­ing, we will have to deal with fallout rang­ing from mas­sive refugee crises and sub­merged cities to scorch­ing heat­waves and drought, sci­en­tists say. Start­ing on Novem­ber 30, 195 na­tions will hud­dle in Paris for a cli­mate res­cue pact to rein in the green­house gases that drive cli­mate change. Here is what could hap­pen if they come up empty handed:

Hot­ter tem­per­a­tures

With­out ad­di­tional ac­tion, Earth could heat up by as much as four de­grees Cel­sius (7.2 de­grees Fahren­heit) by the end of the cen­tury, com­pared to pre-in­dus­trial lev­els. A moun­tain of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence tells us this would be a recipe for dis­as­ter. A “busi­ness as usual” emis­sions sce­nario would “lead to a very high risk of se­vere, wide­spread and ir­re­versible” im­pacts, ac­cord­ing to the UN In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC).

Ris­ing seas

By 2100, the world’s oceans would rise 2682 cen­time­ters over lev­els seen be­tween 1986-2005, the IPCC found in its most re­cent as­sess­ment, which in­cludes data up to 2012. More re­cent stud­ies sug­gest the in­creases could be even higher. Driv­ing the rise are ice sheets in Green­land and Antarc­tica shed­ding mass faster than ever, melt­ing glaciers, and oceans that ex­pand as they warm. Even a 2 C rise as tar­geted by the UN would sub­merge land cur­rently oc­cu­pied by 280 mil­lion peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to Cli­mate Cen­tral, a US-based re­search group. The change could take a few hun­dred years, or up to 2,000 years.

Ex­treme weather

Su­per­storms, bone-chilling cold snaps and in­tense heat waves could be­come more com­mon-and more ex­treme-due to global warm­ing. While the link be­tween spe­cific weather events and cli­mate re­mains hard to nail down, re­cent re­search has teased out cli­mate change as an ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor for deadly floods, snow­storms, ty­phoons and heat waves. Not all nasty hur­ri­canes or heat waves, how­ever, can be chalked up to cli­mate change, sci­en­tists cau­tion.

Wa­ter dilemma

Global warm­ing can lead to long-run­ning droughts and dev­as­tat­ing floods, which means some parts of the world will not have enough wa­ter and oth­ers too much. Droughts in Syria and Cal­i­for­nia have been tied to cli­mate change. Heavy rains carry the risk of flood­ing that can send peo­ple flee­ing for their lives, de­stroy homes and crops.

Hu­man­i­tar­ian crises

Global warm­ing can spur dis­ease, rav­age crops and push more peo­ple into poverty. Con­flict over wa­ter or smaller har­vests could in­sti­gate war or mass mi­gra­tion. Peo­ple liv­ing on low-ly­ing is­lands such as the Mal­dives, an archipelago in the In­dian Ocean, or the Philip­pines could be­come cli­mate refugees, forced to flee their homes due to ris­ing seas. Im­pov­er­ished peo­ple in the world are al­ready be­ing hurt by heat waves, drought and flood­ing, be­cause they are both more de­pen­dent on the land and lack pub­lic ser­vices. — AFP

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