The earth has a blanket of greenhouse gases. This increases the amount of the sun’s heat that stays in the atmosphere and warms the climate.
If a person’s temperature increases by 2oC, the person is very unwell. For the earth, just two or three degrees warmer and the chances of long heatwaves increase dramatically. Fires will burn fiercely. Storms will be tempests. Extreme events will become common.
The United Nations Environment Program’s recent report Emissions Gap Report 2019, makes it clear that under current government policy settings:
- We are on track for 3.3 to 3.9oC of warming.
- We must limit warming to 1.50C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
- Anything above 2oC will result in catastrophic changes.
For climate risks specific to Australia, see The risks to Australia of a 3°C warmer world | Australian Academy of Science.
We need to decarbonise the entire global economy. There is still time to take action, but we must act now. If allowed to continue, global heating will influence the way our economy and our society functions, in significant and possibly even catastrophic ways.
The situation looks frightening, but it is possible for humans to change the outcome. Humans have great potential to overcome problems. The rebuilding that happened after the world wars is an example of this.
Scientific consensus says it is still possible to avoid catastrophic changes – if the world takes urgent serious action and successfully transitions to a low carbon economy.