by Seth Borenstein
October 08, 2018
The sky is falling again as hysteria rules among
climate warming scientists at the United Nations.
Technocrats who are overcome by their own
self-delusion end up in a perpetual spiral of
Countless hours and resources have been wasted
studying what has been declared a myth by thousands
of level-headed scientists.
Preventing an extra
single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference
in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on
this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists
But they provide little
hope the world will rise to the challenge.
The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
issued its gloomy
report at a meeting in Incheon,
In the 728-page document,
the United Nations organization
detailed how Earth's weather, health and ecosystems would be in
better shape if the world's leaders could somehow limit future
warming to just 0.9º Fahrenheit (a half degree Celsius)
from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8º F (1º C).
Among other things:
Half as many
people would suffer from lack of water.
There would be
fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious
Seas would rise
nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters) less.
Half as many
animals with back bones and plants would lose the majority
of their habitats.
There would be
substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.
Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into 'irreversible'
And it just may
be enough to save most of the world's coral reefs from
"For some people this
is a life-or-death situation without a doubt," said
Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead
author on the report.
Limiting warming to 0.9º
from now means the world can keep "a semblance" of the ecosystems we
Adding another 0.9º on
top of that - the looser global goal - essentially means a different
and more challenging Earth for people and species, said another of
the report's lead authors, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of
the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland,
But meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would
require immediate, draconian cuts in emissions of heat-trapping
gases and dramatic changes in the energy field. While the U.N. panel
says technically that's possible, it saw little chance of the needed
international negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to
2º C (3.6º F) since pre-industrial times. It's called the
In 2015, when the
nations of the world agreed to the historic
Paris climate agreement, they set dual goals:
2º C and a more
demanding target of 1.5º C from pre-industrial times.
The 1.5 was at the
urging of vulnerable countries that called 2 degrees a 'death
The world has already
warmed 1º C since pre-industrial times, so the talk is really about
the difference of another 0.5º C or 0.9º F from now.
"There is no
definitive way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 above
pre-industrial levels," the U.N.-requested report said.
More than 90 scientists
wrote the report, which is based on more than 6,000 peer reviews.
"Global warming is
likely to reach 1.5º C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to
increase at the current rate," the report states.
Deep in the report,
scientists say less than 2 percent of 529 of their calculated
possible future scenarios kept warming below the 1.5 goal without
the temperature going above that and somehow coming back down in the
The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are,
to limit warming to 1.5 in any way," one of the study's lead
authors, Joerj Roeglj of the Imperial College in London, said.
"I just don't see the possibility of doing the one and a half"
and even 2 degrees looks unlikely,
...said Appalachian State
University environmental scientist Gregg Marland, who isn't
part of the U.N. panel but has tracked global emissions for decades
for the U.S. Energy Department.
He likened the report to
an academic exercise wondering what would happen if a frog had
wings. Yet report authors said they remain optimistic.
Limiting warming to the lower goal is,
"not impossible but
will require unprecedented changes,"
...U.N. panel chief
Hoesung Lee said in a news conference in which scientists
repeatedly declined to spell out just how feasible that goal is.
They said it is up to
governments to decide whether those unprecedented changes are acted
"We have a monumental
task in front of us, but it is not impossible," Mahowald said
earlier. "This is our chance to decide what the world is going
to look like."
To limit warming to the
lower temperature goal, the world needs "rapid and far-reaching"
changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design,
transportation and building use, the report said.
carbon dioxide (CO²) 'pollution' levels
that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030
and then be near zero by 2050.
Emissions of other
greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop. Switching
away rapidly from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to do
this could be more expensive than the less ambitious goal, but it
would clean the air of other pollutants.
And that would have the
side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million 'premature deaths'
through this century, the report said.
risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human
security and economic growth are projected to increase with
global warming" the report said, adding that the world's poor
are more likely to get hit hardest.
climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said extreme weather,
especially heat waves, will be deadlier if the lower goal is passed.
Meeting the tougher-to-reach goal,
"could result in
around 420 million fewer people being frequently exposed to
extreme heat waves, and about 65 million fewer people being
exposed to exceptional heat waves," the report said.
The deadly heat waves
that hit India and Pakistan in 2015 will become practically yearly
events if the world reaches the hotter of the two goals, the report
Coral and other ecosystems are also at risk. The report said warmer
water coral reefs "will largely disappear."
The outcome will determine whether,
would get to see beautiful coral reefs," Princeton's Oppenheimer
For scientists there is a
bit of "wishful thinking" that the report will spur governments and
people to act quickly and strongly, one of the panel's leaders,
German biologist Hans-Otto Portner, said.
"If action is not
taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented climate