The Scientists Are Terrified
A survey of the world’s top climate researchers shows a stark finding: Most expect catastrophic levels of heating and damage soon—very soon.
A new Nature survey shows a majority of the world’s leading climate scientists expect “catastrophic” impacts in their lifetimes driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. Brilliant researchers, they’re just like you and me—but with more data, which actually makes the new survey even more unnerving.
The feature from Nature, published on Monday, involved querying Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change researchers. These are the same folks who put out a major report earlier this year warning that this is essentially the most consequential decade in human history, one that will play a major role in deciding just how severe global warming will be for generations to come. In other words, they’re deep in it.
Nature heard back from 92 of the 233 living IPCC authors. The results show that six in 10 of the respondents expect the planet to warm at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius), a level that’s well beyond the Paris Agreement target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). And it’s double the 1.5-degree-Celsius (2.7-degree-Fahrenheit) target that policymakers and researchers (including the IPCC) have identified as a relatively safe level of heating that would allow small islands to remain above sea level and protect millions from food insecurity and violence. Just 20% of the researchers, meanwhile, expect the world to meet the Paris Agreement 2-degree-Celsius target, and a paltry 4% think 1.5 degrees Celsius is in play.
Even more upsetting, 88% of the researchers expect climate change to unleash catastrophic impacts in their lifetimes. Of course, you could argue that’s already happening. Research has shown climate change is playing a role in making heat waves, wildfires, and cyclones worse…
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