Climate Scientists Warn of Catastrophic Warming Beyond 1.5°C Target

A survey of 380 leading climate scientists predicts global temperatures will rise to at least 2.5°C above preindustrial levels this century, exceeding the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement. Almost 80% of respondents expect at least 2.5°C of global heating, with nearly half anticipating temperatures to rise by 3°C or more.

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Climate Scientists Warn of Catastrophic Warming Beyond 1.5°C Target

Climate Scientists Warn of Catastrophic Warming Beyond 1.5°C Target

Hundreds of leading climate scientists predict that global temperatures will rise to at least 2.5°C (4.5°F) above preindustrial levels this century, exceeding the 1.5°C (2.7°F) target set by the Paris Agreement. The dire forecast comes from a survey conducted by The Guardian, which approached every contactable lead author or review editor of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2018.

Why this matters: The consequences of exceeding the 1.5°C target will have far-reaching and devastating impacts on global food security, economic stability, and human migration patterns. Failure to take immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions will lead to irreversible damage to the planet, putting the lives and livelihoods of millions at risk.

The survey results paint a grim picture of the future, with almost 80% of the 380 respondents expecting at least 2.5°C of global heating, and nearly half anticipating temperatures to rise by 3°C (5.4°F) or more. Only a mere 6% of the scientists believe the 1.5°C limit, which was agreed upon by world leaders in the 2015 Paris accord, will be met.

The predicted temperature rise is expected to have catastrophic consequences for humanity and the planet, including famines, conflicts, and mass migration driven by extreme weather events. Many scientists expressed feelings of hopelessness, anger, and fear over the failure of governments to take decisive action despite the overwhelming scientific evidence.

"I think we are headed for major societal disruption within the next five years... I could not feel greater despair over the future," said Gretta Pecl, a professor at the University of Tasmania. Peter Cox from the University of Exeter in the UK emphasized that "Climate change will not suddenly become dangerous at 1.5C – it already is. And it will not be 'game over' if we pass 2C, which we might well do."

The IPCC's reports are considered the gold standard assessments of climate change, approved by all governments and produced by experts in physical and social sciences. The survey's findings underscore the urgent need for immediate and aggressive action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

Despite the devastating climate consequences already being felt in countries like Mozambique, where hundreds of people have lost their homes to rising seas, gas companies like ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies expect to sell gas for a decade longer, contributing to the relentless accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. The climate crisis is causing record-breaking temperatures, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world.

Key Takeaways

  • 80% of 380 climate scientists predict global temperatures to rise by at least 2.5°C this century.
  • Exceeding 1.5°C target will have devastating impacts on food security, economy, and human migration.
  • Only 6% of scientists believe the 1.5°C limit will be met, citing government inaction.
  • Temperature rise will lead to famines, conflicts, and mass migration driven by extreme weather events.
  • Immediate and aggressive action is needed to curb emissions and mitigate climate change impacts.