While people got used to the idea that global warming is already happening, scientists predicted that as long as global temperature is rising with less than 2 °C, human as a species will be all right. A recent study suggests, however, that keeping the temperature increase below 2 degrees may save us, but same thing cannot be said about other species on Earth.
A while ago, in 2009, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) convened that a difference of 2 °C compared to the pre-industrial era is safe enough to protect species on Earth, and vouched to do everything in their power to reduce global temperature to the safe margin. The compromise became known as the Copenhagen Accord and was signed by 192 countries.
But the UNFCC conclusion came under scrutiny recently, when a scientist duo, David G. Victor and Charles F. Kennel, expressed serious concerns about the validity of the 2 degrees margin. “Capping global warming to a maximum of 2 degree Celsius,” the two scientists said in October 2014, will no longer be enough to stop the negative effects of the global warming.
Their analysis was confirmed lately by Petra Tschakert, a scientist from Penn State University in University Park. Tschakert deemed the 2 °C “utterly inadequate” and argues that while the concept launched by the UNFCC is good, it should aim for a lower value of 1.5 °C instead.
The conclusions of the study Tschakert co-authored suggested that while a 2 degrees change would to too much for some species to adapt to, the 1.5 degrees value should offer them enough time to eventually find a fitting habitat.
The 1.5 °C figure is viewed by most people, state officials and scientists alike, as unrealistic. While scientists believe it would be desirable to limit the rise in temperature as much as possible, they think 1.5 degrees is idealistic, as the world already warmed by 0.85 °C. It is simply too late now.
One other aspect would be political commitment, as the biggest industrial powers already complain keeping the rise below 2 degrees comes at a great cost for their economies. Settling for 1.5 °C would be too much.
The UN has been struggling to make its members agree on anything less than 2 °C, in spite of the overwhelming scientific data advising to do so. Tschakert revealed that she couldn’t even bring the subject of imposing a 1.5 °C limit in any climate change conference she participated. Officials were mandated by their governments to focus on the 2 degrees value.
There is a new round of international climate negotiations scheduled to take place in Paris in December. Until then, officials have enough time to mull over the new study.
Image Source: Occupy Corporatism
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