35 Years After Addressing Congress, James Hansen Has More Climate Warnings

Global warming may be happening more quickly than previously thought, according to a new study by a group of researchers including former NASA scientist James Hansen, whose testimony before Congress 35 years ago helped raise broad awareness of climate change.

The study warns that the planet could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, of warming this decade, compared with the average temperature in preindustrial days, and that the world will warm by 2 degrees Celsius by 2050. When countries signed the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015 to collectively fight climate change, they agreed to try and limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and aim for 1.5 degrees.

“The 1.5 degree limit is deader than a doornail,” said Dr. Hansen, now the director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program at Columbia University, during a news conference on Thursday. The 2 degrees goal could still be met, he said, but only with concerted action to stop using fossil fuels and at a pace far quicker than current plans.

The world has warmed by about 1.2 degrees Celsius so far and is already experiencing worsening heat waves, wildfires, storms, biodiversity loss and other consequences of climate change. Past the Paris Agreement temperature goals, which reflect the results of international diplomacy rather than exact scientific benchmarks, the effects will get significantly worse and veer into territory with greater extremes and unknowns.

Despite these disagreements, the very real, physical deadlines of 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius are looming close enough on the horizon that, to a certain extent, exactly how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to future greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t matter. Most experts agree that while the 1.5 degree goal has already been missed, 2 degrees is still salvageable — but not without much more action than countries are currently taking.

“We’re also going to pass 2 degrees. That’s clear, unless we take action to reduce the energy imbalance,” Dr. Hansen said. “The first thing we must do is reduce emissions as fast as possible.”

Sahred From Source link Science

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