What will happen if the climate warms up by three degrees? Scientists warn against such a scenario and call for more research.
When it comes to climate change, there is often talk of two degree target. So to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees, better still 1.5 degrees, compared to the pre-industrial age. But what if the earth’s climate warms up by three degrees?
An international team of scientists took a closer look at this scenario and warns: survival of mankind could be at risk at worst.
In their work, which was published in the specialist journal “PNAS” on Monday, the researchers call for extreme scenarios better explore. The consequences of a warming of three degrees have not yet been sufficiently investigated.
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Climate change: consider worst-case scenarios
the research focus on scenarios in which the consequences of climate change are moderate. “Facing a future of accelerated climate change without considering the worst-case scenarios is naïve risk management at best and fatally foolish at worst,” it says.
With Johan Rockstrom and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber the current and previous directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research were also involved in the work.
Experts who were not involved in the publication consider the researchers’ appeal to be important. However, advocate that more likely scenarios to keep in focus.
Climate: Speculations about extreme dangers overwhelm people
“Of course, researchers should also deal with extreme scenarios, but it is more important for the public debate to focus on the probable risks to concentrate,” says Michael Brüggemann, Professor of Climate and Science Communication.
These are already serious enough and challenge politicians and citizens enough. “What tends to overwhelm people mentally is speculation about still more extreme dangers, which could also threaten us.”
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Effect of apocalyptic scenarios unclear
Philipp Schrögel, Head of Science Communication at the Käte Hamburger Center for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at the University of Heidelberg, also speaks of an important impetus, but: “Unfortunately, the scientific knowledge about the effect of apocalyptic scenarios not clear, as the authors of the article also state.”
On the one hand, haunting scenarios could permeate the public and political attention economy, a awareness create for the topic and convey the urgency.
“On the other hand, it can equally happen that individuals are overwhelmed by it, not individuals perspectives for action and ignore the scenarios,” Schrögel continued.
“Two nuclear powers and seven high-security laboratories affected”
In their article, the researchers write about the expansion of areas extreme heat – i.e. an annual average temperature of over 29 degrees Celsius.
Around 30 million people in the Sahara and on the Gulf Coast are currently affected. According to the team’s modeling, they could two billion people by 2070 live in such areas.
This shows how complex climate impacts could be. “By 2070, these temperatures and the social and political consequences will be two nuclear powers and seven high-security laboratories housing the most dangerous pathogens housed directly,” says co-author Chi Xu from China’s Nanjing University. “There is serious potential for catastrophic repercussions.”
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Climatologist: Probably that whole countries are no longer habitable
For climate researcher Niklas Höhne from Wageningen University, that is Worst case scenario of extinction is still “relatively far away”. “But before that there are gradations,” said the expert, who was not involved in the article. “It is quite likely that whole parts of the country and countries are no longer habitable.”
He thinks it’s important to educate people about worst-case scenarios. “We need to communicate clearly what the risks are. And on the other hand say: We still have it in our hands,” says the researcher.
“We know how to do it, we have the technologies and we know them political measures. It’s not even expensive, in the long run it’s even cheaper to do something about climate change.” (lary/dpa)
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