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Picture a world where temperatures are rising, sea levels are climbing, and extreme weather is becoming the norm. This isn’t a scene from a dystopian film, it’s the reality of 2° C of global warming. But what exactly does a 2°C increase in temperature look like, and how does it affect our planet and its inhabitants? Get ready to explore the devastating impact of a warming world and learn about the steps we must take to mitigate its effects.
As world leaders and policymakers support the fossil fuel industry, forests continue to burn, oceans are getting warmer, glaciers are melting rapidly, and biodiversity worldwide is becoming extinct. Since the industrial revolution, every decade, there’s been an increase in the earth’s temperature. 2021 was the sixth hottest year in history.
Humans and other organisms can only adapt and survive a certain level of warming. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at the existing pace or increase in the coming years, the planet will heat up more. Further, the ecological and climatic systems we have depended on in our lives will unravel. Our earth will become hostile and global inequality will deteriorate.
According to experts, it is necessary to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius for a safe and secure future. Thus, it is essential to pressure world leaders, decision-makers, and influential people to make efforts to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The earth is currently on track to heat more than 3 degrees Celsius, a scary scenario. Unless the world’s economy is transformed, we are all heading towards a heated planet. The way to transform the global economy is already known to the world- eliminating fossil fuels, exchanging them with renewable energy, and phasing out extractive industries. But, only if world leaders actually followed this path then only we could heal the planet.
As mentioned before, scientists state that temperatures should not rise beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius; above that, situations could be quite worse. If global temperatures increased to 2 degrees Celsius, it would mark the difference between events at the upper limit of current natural variability and a new climate disaster, especially in tropical regions.
Freshwater availability will likely drop nearly twice as much at 2 degrees around the Mediterranean. Several tropical regions, such as South-East Asia, West Africa, and Central and northern South America, will likely experience substantial local yield reductions, especially for wheat and maize.
Coming to sea level rise, 2 degrees Celsius would mean 10 centimeters higher levels and a 30 percent rate of increase by 2100. Coral reefs already face several major threats today. Imagine what will happen to them when temperatures reach 2 degrees Celsius. If temperatures reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, 90 percent of coral reefs worldwide will be at risk in 2050. If temperatures reached 2 degrees, all coral reefs would be at risk.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and the Earth System Dynamics study, 2 degrees Celsius is not safe at all. The world is already facing severe impacts due to climate change; it will only worsen.
The ocean absorbs most heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. As the ocean heats up, all marine wildlife will get affected. Marine heatwaves threaten coral reefs and other marine plants and animals that depend on them. As corals support fisheries, the increasingly warming ocean threatens a major source of food and income for coastal communities. At 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world will likely experience 16 times more marine heatwaves. While at 2 degrees Celsius, 23 times more heatwaves. This would destroy marine life.
Besides marine heatwaves, heatwaves on land would also worsen. The last couple of years was the hottest in history. The current decade might break the record if temperatures rise. Heatwaves and warmer temperatures are also major public health issues affecting the world’s poorest countries.
The global temperature at 2 degrees Celsius would bring about 29 additional days of brutal heat and warm spells lasting for 35 days extra. Approximately 37 percent of the world’s population would be exposed to at least one brutal heatwave every five years. For example, Europe would have a 59 percent chance of witnessing unprecedented summer heat every year.
Climate change is already changing weather patterns and natural calamities. It is creating unprecedented droughts and rainfall, affecting agricultural activities and displacing people. Extreme rainfall can cause illness and death, while droughts can cause wildfires and dust storms. At 2 degrees Celsius, 36 percent of the land will likely face extreme rainfall, and average rainfall to rise by 4 percent. It could also double the length of droughts.
Biodiversity is gradually disappearing as temperatures rise and habitats are destroyed. The warmer it gets, the more species suffer. Habitat loss will likely triple if temperatures rise from 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Tropical storms also worsen due to warming ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, and other planetary shifts. At 2 degrees Celsius, category 4 and 5 tropical storms would become common every year.
Cultivating crops has become difficult as the world gets warmer. Rising temperatures severely threaten several staple crops that form the basis of nutrition. Regardless of the rise in temperatures, the average crop yield of maize and wheat will decline by 2100.
Public health will be severely affected- much more than Covid-19 affected health as the world gets warmers. Mosquitos will grow and expand, and several people will suffer from malaria. At 2 degrees Celsius, mosquito ranges will expand by up to 30 percent in arid conditions and 10 percent in humid conditions.
This is what 2° C of global warming looks like. Will we survive it?
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Decreasing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane is a critical step in preventing further warming. This can be achieved through the use of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, and the adoption of sustainable practices in industry and agriculture.
Support Climate-Friendly Policies: Governments must implement policies to support the transition to a low-carbon economy and encourage individuals, businesses, and organizations to reduce their carbon footprint.
Promote Energy Efficiency: Improving energy efficiency in homes, buildings, and transportation can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy.
Adopt Renewable Energy Sources: Switching to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower can greatly reduce emissions and help create a sustainable energy future.
Plant Trees and Protect Forests: Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and protect against soil erosion and desertification. Protecting and planting more trees can help mitigate the effects of global warming.
Support Sustainable Agriculture: Sustainable agriculture practices, such as regenerative farming and reducing the use of chemical fertilizers, can reduce emissions and sequester carbon in the soil.
Educate and Raise Awareness: Education and raising awareness about the effects of global warming is critical for motivating individuals and communities to take action.
These steps, among others, are important for mitigating the effects of 2°C of global warming and working towards a sustainable future for our planet.