The world must prepare for the “climate endgame” to better understand and plan for the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, scientists warned Tuesday. Climate models that can estimate the extent of global warming depending on greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly sophisticated and provide policymakers with an accurate trajectory of global temperature increase. What is less well explored is the impacts of certain event shocks, such as crop failure and infrastructure damage due to extreme weather events, which are more likely to occur with each warming. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) outlined what is currently known about “catastrophic consequences” and found the knowledge gap is narrowing.
Writing in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, he proposed an international research agenda to help governments plan for “worst-case scenarios.”
These included four key areas of concern – what the authors termed the “four horsemen” of climate change: famine and malnutrition, extreme weather, conflict and vector-borne diseases.
“Irreversible and potentially catastrophic risks from human-induced climate change must be factored into our planning and actions,” said PIK director and co-author of the study, Johan Rockström.
He said that the more research that has been done on the tipping points of Earth’s climate – such as the irreversible melting of ice caps or the transformation of the Amazon rainforest from a carbon sink to a source – showed that in the climate There is always a greater need to factor in high-risk scenarios. Modeling
“To avoid this, doing disaster math is the key,” he said.
The authors point out that successive UN climate science reports have mainly focused on the predicted impacts of 1.5C-2C of warming and have largely downplayed the possibility of a greater temperature increase. .
Government plans put the Earth on track to rise to 2.7C this century, a far cry from the 1.5-C cap set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The study suggested that the scientific approach of “erring towards minimal drama” led to a lack of attention to the potential impacts of temperatures of 3C or more.
“This caution is understandable, yet it does not match the risks and potential harms posed by climate change,” he said.
In addition, risk assessments for so-called low-probability, high-impact events are notoriously difficult to accommodate in long-term climate modeling.
The researchers calculated areas of extreme heat – those with annual average temperatures above 29C – could cover two billion people by 2070.
Drought-induced temperatures create a greater risk of multiple “bread basket failures” such as those affecting Western Europe and heat waves such as India’s wheat in March/April, he warned. The crop has been damaged.
The team called for a UN special science report focusing on “catastrophic climate change scenarios” similar to its 2018 report on 1.5C warming.
“We have to get serious about understanding the profound risks that come from moving our planet into uncharted territory,” said Jory Rojelj, director of research at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.
“Researching these extreme cases means we can now prepare better, including being more serious about reducing emissions.”
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