According to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, the Earth is headed for a catastrophe if we don’t act steadfast and take a radical step towards reducing the greenhouse gas emissions & contain the global temperatures from increasing.
The reports also suggest that humankind have effectively botched its chance to protect the environment from passing a series of thresholds that will further increase the heating of the planet.
Quoting from the report, “Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems. Humans cannot.”
Scientists have considered various thresholds such as the melting of permafrost, which consequently emits methane gas into the atmosphere. This further aggravates the greenhouse gas effect, pushing temperatures even higher. Which leads to the melting of the polar ice caps & loss of sea ice and causes the earth to absorb more ultraviolet radiation and heat which in turn causes more ice to melt.
Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, does not seem optimistic about the current situation. She mentioned that “A molecule of carbon dioxide, on average, lasts about 100 years in the atmosphere. So we haven’t yet felt the impacts of the carbon dioxide that we’ve already put in the atmosphere’’. According to her we should start taking the feedback garnered seriously, as we might not feel the impact of climate change immediately as it is in adjustment phase to the level of greenhouse gas emissions. If we don’t buckle up by taking it seriously and act upon it quickly, this might impede our responses in tackling the issue and lead to more devastating consequences which would be harder to curb. Also, given the current rate of emissions the goal of containing the temperature from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius seems bleak.
The report also highlights other tipping points such as the Amazon rainforest basin whose flora absorbs a significant amount of carbon dioxide to keep temperatures low is under risk of turning into a savannah.
Coastlines around the world are also expected to become inhabitable due to worsening tropical storms and cyclones. Amidst all of this, heat waves and wild fires will continue to intensify around the world.
The report warns that the worst is yet to come and the window of opportunity to prevent this is shutting off soon.