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Limiting Global Warming Half a Degree Will Make Substantial Differences

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By  Sami Cooke

“Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)).

In 2018 alone, there have been irregular climate changes – for example in Australia; the major floods in Queensland, our Great Barrier Reef diminishing, Fires in Victoria & Drought in New South Wales. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a detailed report (https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/) on October 8th, examining that if the Earth warms up by just 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than 2 degrees, these extreme climate changes will lessen and we would see less sea level rises and even fewer species lost. “One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, told the Gulf Times

“Half a degree can make a world of difference.” (Carolyn Gramling, 2018, Science News). This half a degree difference doesn’t sound like much but the ultimate impact on future sea levels would be significant. “A half a degree less warming means about 0.1 meters less sea level rise on average by the next century.” (Carolyn Gramling, Science News). This small difference in degrees will also affect the planet’s ice sheets, allowing sea levels to stay lower for longer. With this 1.5 degree scenario, the Arctic Ocean is predicted to stay ice-free only once per century during summer, whereas with the 2 degree scenario, this would occur once a decade.

When it comes to species lost, a lower temperature would rapidly decrease the damage to habitats, meaning less insects, animals and plant species becoming extinct. This will be due to less heat, less forest fires and less spread of non-native species.

Here’s a breakdown of what the difference a 1.5% world will be compared to a 2% world:

Energy

Sourced from World Resources Institute.

In 2015, 195 nations joined forces and signed onto the Paris Agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions to control global warming from 2 degrees by 2100. Since then, scientists have agreed that the 2 degree target is still too high. Despite their efforts, in 2017, the Paris Agreement was faced with a large implication when US President Donald Trump announced that the United States, a large contributor to global warming, would no longer be a part of the agreement, and has since adopted pro-fossil fuel policies. However, US States led by California and many cities are still cutting out greenhouse gas emissions, as per the agreement. “The USA is on the right track to reduce its emissions, [they] have already been reaching 50 percent of the pledges the Obama administration was having on the table as part of the Paris Agreement,” WMO’s Taalas told the Gulf Times. He also mentioned that some companies such as electric vehicle maker Tesla is helping bringing about change.

This all will go into consideration in December when the Paris Agreement will be reviewed. “With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, told Science News.

Scientists have created a concept called the Carbon Budget. This examines the idea of emissions reaching net zero; which is when the amount of carbon released is balanced by the amount that is being removed. This concept also looks at how many more emissions would be allowed in the meantime. A climate scientist with Carbon Brief; Zeke Hausfather, explains that all the ideas to reach 1.5 degrees overshoot their temperature threshold when it comes to around 2050. “They all exceed it – and then back down,” he told Science News. The IPP report explains that it will require that we reduce emissions by around 45% by the year 2030 to stop this exceeding figure by even just a small amount, ultimately reaching the desired degree of zero by 2050.

The report said that renewable energy would need to supply 70-85% of electricity by 2050 to stay within a 1.5°C limit, compared with about 25% now. There are technologies being built and tested that are used to capture carbon and store it, however they will not be enough to reverse the effects unless we start changing now. Using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, the share of gas-fired power would need to be cut to 8% and coal to fewer than 2%. “By and large, it’s generally true that there’s a linear relationship between warming and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as long as both are increasing,” Hausfather says. “But once you start sucking carbon out of the atmosphere that linear relationship breaks. You need more negative emissions to reduce temperatures than positive emissions to increase them.”

With current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures are currently on track to rise by 4 degrees by 2100.

Austiger Hosting, is proudly a 100% green hosting, carbon neutral provider, that offers hosting for websites across Australia. They are completely on board with doing as much as possible to help turn these statistics around. Michael Barwell, CEO & Founder of Austiger says that “the IT industry uses about 11% of the Earth’s power generation so, every little phone that gets charged, that power has to come from somewhere. When you click a like on Facebook, that little like has to go through probably 10 or 20 servers before it ends up at Facebook HQ, on some seriously big servers and all the way, each one of those devices have got to be powered somehow. So, every little thing on the internet consumes a little bit of power.” Austiger works hard to support lowering greenhouse gases, ultimately diminishing global warming.

“The real problem is, the science is in. Climate change is real and if we don’t act [and] do something now, we’re not going to leave anything for the next generation… We believe there shouldn’t be an option, so everything that we do is completely the carbon offset or the focus on being completely net zero which is how we built the company from the ground up.” Jeff Pond, Technical Operations Director of Austiger explains. If more companies picked up the green initiative, the more chance there is for change.

“The report shows we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it,” said Amjad Abdulla, IPCC board member. This may all sound like an impossible venture but it can definitely be done, however, this doesn’t only mean that big corporations need to change, people’s behaviours will also need to change to start making a difference. If we don’t, people will be faced with a huge impact from a 2 degrees warmer world – or possible higher.

 

References:

Gramling, Carolyn, Science News, 2018, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/global-warming-limit-degrees-ipcc-climate-change

IPP Report – Global Warming of 1.5% https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/

Gulf Times, https://www.gulf-times.com/story/608749/Unprecedented-change-needed-on-global-warming