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Warnings of the ‘climate end game’: risk minimization

The world is turning a blind eye to the dangers of extreme climate change.

Now researchers warn that worst-case scenarios for horror are “dangerously unexplored”.

– If we get up to four or five degrees, it’s a planetary catastrophe, and the “endgame” for human civilization, says climatologist Johan Rockström.

In connection with the Paris Agreement in 2015, the countries of the world agreed to strive to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees. In recent years, warnings have fallen more and more – not least from UN Climate Panel IPCC The world is on the verge of misfire with more severe weather, rising sea levels, fires and droughts as a result.

But the drawn images may still be too bright, according to a recent study Published in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

So far, researchers have mainly examined the results of between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming on Earth.

All the while, studies of a worst-case scenario for massive warming — which could include the collapse of entire communities and the eventual extinction of humanity — are “dangerously unexplored,” according to the study.

‘The possibility is not small’

One of the authors is Johan RockstromDirector of the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Research.

We underestimate the risk of getting into a worst-case scenario. When you look closely at the climate models and climate sensitivity studies that have been done, we see that there is a non-trivial possibility that we get to more than four degrees.

what does that mean?

At three degrees already, a third of the world’s population likely lives in areas where it is difficult to survive as a result of health risks from extreme heat and lack of food and water. If we get to four or five degrees, that’s a case of planetary catastrophe.

warms himself

what does that mean?

The ‘end-game’ of human civilization as we know it. The danger when warming reaches high levels due to greenhouse gas emissions is that the Earth begins to warm itself rather than cool it, as a result of a series of spontaneous warming processes, such as the Earth absorbing more heat as the Greenland ice sheet disappears or methane and carbon dioxide are released when Permafrost melts.

Johan Rockström points out that today we don’t know exactly how warm human civilization would have to be for it to crash, because we weren’t there before.

– More research is needed here. So far, the major sill systems, Greenland, rainforest and permafrost, remain resilient despite enormous stress. But today there is no single study that quantifies temperature levels for different thresholds, when we pass these breakpoints. This gap we must fill again.

Urgent to get an answer

Forest fires in southwestern France.

According to Rockström, current climate models are based on the assumption that we do not cross the threshold, despite the high risk that this is the case.

We want the IPCC to launch a special report on the breaking points. It is not entirely easy to build nonlinear processes like this into climate models, but more and more Earth system models analyze feedback risks and thresholds and it is imperative that we get answers.

How worried are you today that we are reaching the “end game” for the climate?

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– We’re not on the cusp of a “final game” now, but we should gain a better knowledge of what could unleash it. Today, I am very concerned as we are approaching the point where we are missing 1.5 degrees.

Floods after heavy rain in Pakistan in July.

Drought in the Po River in Italy in July.

A firefighter tries to fight fires in Cyprus in June.

false signals

The Swedish election campaign has not yet focused on the climate. How do you see it as a researcher?

We see a lot of evidence that we need to increase the frequency of moving to a fossil-free zone. Yet we see such a muted climate debate. It’s a huge disappointment. It’s also worrisome, given our role in the world. If one of the world’s richest luxury countries didn’t make the transition but did cut their gasoline tax, how can we expect countries like Nigeria, Brazil, and India to invest in the transition? It sends completely false signals to the outside world.

What would you like to hear from Climate Minister Annika Strandhal (Q)?

– It promised a large investment plan of billions of kroner to accelerate the transformation in all sectors. And for the government to take the lead in upgrading our goals to be fossil-free well before 2045. The goals we have today don’t line up with what science says to handle 1.5 degrees.

“Top priority”

In an email to Aftonbladet, Annika Strandhäll states that three degrees of warming are unacceptable:

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We risk destroying our only planet and living and living conditions in many places. More countries must do more, faster, so that we can limit the rise in temperatures in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

How do you see the fact that the climate has so far not been given much space in the election campaign?

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and a top priority for us Social Democrats in elections. At the same time, we have a situation where a lot of people are worried about the increased costs of food, fuel and electricity and how they are going to make their daily expenses, so naturally that will happen in the election campaign and something on the social community. Democrats think it matters. As Minister of Climate, I can say that it would be good for both people and climate wallets to break the dependence on fossil energy from Russia, among other things.