What 3 Degree Celsius might look like.
It is, without a doubt that the planet will warm up an average of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) this century and that would be calamitous.
This real chance has prompted scientists to affirm that in such a brutally hot world, there will be deadly heat waves, massive wildfires, and damaging downpours will come far more often and hit much harder than they do today.
Also, the ocean will be hotter too and more acidic, causing fish declines and likely the end of coral reefs. In fact, a quarter or so of the Earth’s species may go extinct in such conditions or be headed that way.
Our planet is changing fast. Climate science is concerned with what is in the air, the invisible, planet-warming build-up of carbon dioxide. But you no longer need graphs to see the impact.
Rainforests are creeping into savannah. Ice sheets are plunging into the sea. Bright coral reefs are fading to white.
Experts cannot say exactly how likely this future is because that depends on what humankind does to mitigate the worsening climate crisis, especially over the coming decade.
Six years ago, world leaders met in Paris and agreed to keep global warming below 2 degrees (and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible). Yet, despite a slight decline in pollution in 2020 because of pandemic shutdowns and despite a new surge in commitments from governments to slash their emissions to net zero by 2050 (or 2060 in the case of China), the shift to a green economy is not happening fast enough.
So, what would 3 degrees look like? Scientists agrees that adding 2 more degrees to the more than 1 degree we have already added would make our world much hotter and disproportionately hotter on land. The reason is being; about 70 percent, according to research, of the planet is covered in water, and water warms more slowly than land.
However, they stress that the path out of such a future is still before us. While the 1.5-degree target will likely be surpassed, if countries immediately set credible targets for 2030, we may still reach net zero by 2050, holding warming to about 2 degrees. That is what is famously called, “Flattening the curve”.
Cities and towns will need more tree cover, and some outdoor sport will probably move inside, while air conditioning systems and the electricity grid, will need to be optimised to avoid blackouts.
Despite all that bad news, experts stress that the window to avoid 3 degrees has not closed yet, and the costs of getting there are actually far cheaper than once thought.
We need to stop chopping down trees, too, but while agriculture is commonly seen as a difficult industry to decarbonise given our reliance on it for food, new technologies and greener farming methods could lead the way if given investment.