NEW STUDIES SHOW ALMOST NO CHANCE OF AVOIDING DANGEROUS WARMING

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31 july 2017

We only have a 5 percent chance of avoiding ‘dangerous’ global warming, a study finds

By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, July 31 at 12:02 PM

In recent years, it has become increasingly common to frame the climate change problem as a kind of countdown — each year we emit more carbon dioxide, narrowing the window for fixing the problem, but not quite closing it yet. After all, something could still change. Emissions could still start to plunge precipitously. Maybe next year.

This outlook has allowed, at least for some, for the preservation of a form of climate optimism[....]

Yet a battery of recent studies call into question even that limited optimism. Last week, a group of climate researchers published research suggesting the climate has been warming for longer than we thought due to human influences — in essence, pushing the so-called “preindustrial” baseline for the planet’s warming backwards in time. The logic is clear: If the Earth has already warmed more than we thought due to human activities, then there’s even less remaining carbon dioxide that we can emit and still avoid 2 degrees of warming.

[We may have even less time to stop global warming than we thought]

Two new studies published Monday, meanwhile, go further towards advancing this pessimistic view which asserts that there’s little chance of the world will stay within prescribed climate limits.

The first new study calculates the statistical likelihood of various amounts of warming by the year 2100 based on three trends that matter most for how much carbon we put in the air. Those are the global population, countries’ GDP (on a per capita basis), and carbon intensity, or the volume of emissions for a given level of economic activity.

The research finds that the median warming is likely to be 3.2 degrees Celsius, and further concludes that there’s only a 5 percent chance that the world can hold limiting below 2 degrees Celsius and a mere 1 percent chance that it can be limited below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

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