Sci­en­tists: World likely won’t avoid dan­ger­ous warm­ing mark

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - WEATHER - By Seth Borenstein AP Sci­ence Writer

A team of top sci­en­tists is telling world lead­ers to stop con­grat­u­lat­ing them­selves on the Paris agree­ment to fight cli­mate change be­cause if more isn’t done, global tem­per­a­tures will likely hit dan­ger­ous warm­ing lev­els in about 35 years.

Six sci­en­tists who were lead­ers in past in­ter­na­tional cli­mate con­fer­ences joined with the Uni­ver­sal Eco­log­i­cal Fund in Ar­gentina to re­lease a brief re­port Thurs­day, say­ing that if even more cuts in heat-trap­ping gases aren’t agreed upon soon, the world will warm by an­other 1.8 de­grees Fahren­heit (1 de­gree Cel­sius) by around 2050.

That 1.8 de­gree mark is key be­cause in 2009 world lead­ers agreed that they wanted to avoid warm­ing of 2 de­grees Cel­sius (3.6 de­grees Fahren­heit) above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els. Tem­per­a­tures have al­ready risen about 1 de­gree Cel­sius (1.8 de­grees Fahren­heit), so that 2 de­gree goal is re­ally about pre­vent­ing a rise of an­other de­gree go­ing for­ward.

Ex­am­in­ing the car­bon pol­lu­tion cuts and curbs promised by 190 na­tions in an agree­ment made in Paris last De­cem­ber, the sci­en­tists said it’s sim­ply not enough.

“The pledges are not go­ing to get even close,” said re­port lead au­thor Sir Robert Wat­son, a Univer­sity of East Anglia pro­fes­sor and for­mer World Bank chief sci­en­tist who used to be chair­man of the United Na­tions’ In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change. “If you govern­ments of the world are re­ally se­ri­ous, you’re go­ing to have to do way, way more.”

If car­bon pol­lu­tion con­tin­ues with just the emis­sion cuts pledged in Paris, Earth will likely hit the dan­ger mark by 2050, Wat­son and col­leagues cal­cu­lated, echo­ing what other re­searchers have found. They said with just a few more cuts, the dan­ger level might be de­layed by 20 years,

In Paris, the coun­tries also added a sec­ondary tougher goal of lim­it­ing warm­ing to just an­other 0.9 de­grees Fahren­heit (half a de­gree Cel­sius) as an as­pi­ra­tion.

There “is no hope of us sta­bi­liz­ing” at that tem­per­a­ture be­cause the car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere al­ready com­mits the world to hit­ting that mark, Wat­son said.

Wat­son said a few weeks ago he was in Washington at an event with United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki Moon and for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore cel­e­brat­ing the ac­cord as a vic­tory.

“It struck me that this was naive,” Wat­son said. “This is a real ma­jor chal­lenge to stay even close to 2 de­grees Cel­sius.”

That 2-de­gree dan­ger mark is on a con­tin­uum with harm­ful ef­fects al­ready be­ing felt now at lower warm­ing lev­els, Wat­son said. But he added: “As you go more and more above 2, the neg­a­tive ef­fects be­come more and more pro­nounced, more and more se­vere.”

The re­port wasn’t pub­lished in a sci­en­tific jour­nal. Six out­side sci­en­tists looked at for The As­so­ci­ated Press and said the sci­ence be­hind it was sound and so were the con­clu­sions.

“It is a good sum­mary of what is com­mon knowl­edge in the cli­mate ex­pert com­mu­nity but not widely ap­pre­ci­ated by mem­bers of the pub­lic and even pol­icy mak­ers,” said Stefan Rahm­storf, head of Earth sys­tem anal­y­sis at the Potsdam In­sti­tute in Ger­many. “So in­deed it is a use­ful re­minder no­tice to the world about what is at stake.”

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