There’s still hope for world in dealing with global warming

Earth is rapidly headed for a place of no return, where climate change will leave the planet a more hostile place for people, plants and animals.

The impacts and costs are greater and coming faster than expected, according to a comprehensive new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that says we have about a dozen years to come to grips with the issue.

But there is some hope. The IPCC also found that reducing global warming by even half a degree Celsius would dramatically reduce deaths from heat, drought and disease; the loss of species from diminishing habitat; and submerged land caused by melting ice caps and rising oceans, with the loss of homes and livelihoods that would accompany such flooding. Half a degree less of warming could even save some of the world’s coral reefs.

That’s why the panel is urging world leaders to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees C rather than the looser goal of staying under 2 C set at the Paris climate change conference in 2015. It’s particularly sobering news since the world — based on current warming trends and lacklustre carbon reduction commitments to date — is set to blow by both numbers and see the climate heat up 3 C by the end of the century.

If there was ever reason to doubt the life-or-death impact of global warming, that’s long gone. And yet the message is still not getting through, in part because so many politicians are keen to play a politically expedient short game rather than focus on the environmental and economic imperatives that will become all too apparent over the longer term.

— The Toronto Star

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