If carbon emissions are not reduced, the earth may warm by nearly three degrees as soon as 2040, which could cause more intense wildfires, drought, food shortage and severe poverty across the globe, a new report from the United Nations warns.
The 728-page report was created by 91 scientists from 40 countries and was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Monday. They looked at more than 6,000 studies to form their conclusions.
The temperature of the atmosphere may warm 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit if the world continues its current rate of greenhouse gas productions, the IPCC said.
“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II. “The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”
The world’s CO2 concentration has already been raised by 45 percent, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography geoscientist Jeff Severinghaus. “That’s a big change.”
Dating back to the 1850s, the earth has already warmed by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, making the danger zone now less than a degree away, the IPCC said.
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
Wildfires, droughts, and food shortages could intensify and become more frequent, according to the report.
“We’re looking at epic hurricanes and floods that make those look minor in comparison,” Severinghaus said. “We’re talking a substantial loss of property and loss of life.”
The necessary changes in global environmental policies to prevent these dangers are “far-reaching and unprecedented,” according to the IPCC.
The world would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost 50 percent by 2030. Coal use would have to drop as low as 1 percent, said the IPCC.
If not, the most serious damages caused by climate change throughout the century could cost $54 trillion, according to the U.N. report.
The Paris Agreement, meant to prevent worsened climate change, won’t be enough, said the IPCC.
President Trump, who said the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, also rolled back Obama-era coal pollution controls and natural gas drilling restrictions in August and September, respectively.
Consequences of climate change can already be seen, according to Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. Zhai pointed out extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice.
“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.
The report recommends that if human-caused global warming can be reduced to just .9 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8 degrees: half as many people would suffer from lack of water; there would be fewer heat-related death and illness, there would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts, and more.