The Associated PressJuly 10, 2020 11:55:02 AM IS
The world could see annual global temperatures cross an important threshold for the first time in the next five years, the UN weather agency said on Thursday.
According to forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization, there is a 20% chance that global temperatures will be 1
The 1.5 C mark is the level at which countries in the 2015 Paris Agreement agreed to limit global warming. While a new annual high could be followed by several years with lower average temperatures, crossing this threshold would be seen as further evidence that international efforts to curb climate change are not working.
“It shows how close we are to what the Paris Agreement is trying to prevent,” said Maxx Dilley, director of climate services at the World Meteorological Organization.
Dilley said it is not impossible for countries to achieve the Paris goal to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century.
“But any delay only narrows the window that leaves time to reverse these trends and bring temperature back to these limits,” he told The Associated Press.
Scientists say that the average temperature worldwide due to artificial greenhouse gas emissions is already at least 1 ° C higher than between 1850 and 1900.
The Geneva-based WMO said that the probability that the 1.5-degree mark will be exceeded in a single month between 2020 and 2024 is 70%. Average annual temperatures of 0.91 to 1.59 ° C are expected for the five-year period, it said.
The forecast is included in an annual climate outlook based on several long-term computer models created under the direction of the UK Met Office.
Climate models have proven to be accurate in the past because they are based on well-understood physical equations about the effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, said Anders Levermann, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research near Berlin, who did not participate in the report.
“We can make more accurate predictions about the climate than about the weather,” he said. “The physics behind it are rock hard.”
Leverman said that reaching the 1.5-degree threshold is “a screaming warning signal” but should not detract from efforts to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
WMO found that the models used for the forecast do not take into account the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on reducing emissions from warming planet gases such as carbon dioxide. However, experts say that a pandemic decrease in emissions is likely to be short-lived and could actually affect efforts to end fossil fuel use.
“The effects of the corona virus are a partial shutdown of the global economy,” said Levermann. “But changing the way we do things can only be achieved with a healthy economy.”
Dilley, the WMO official, said record temperatures like those currently observed in the Arctic are the impact of emissions that were pumped into the atmosphere decades ago. Therefore, attempts must soon be made to change the future course of the climate.
“This is not something that can be stopped at a penny,” he said. “It’s like an ocean liner that takes a long, long time to turn.”
“This is the message that people should choose in their daily lives and how and in what other ways they should be concerned,” he added.
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