Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Up to 5 billion people could experience extreme climates by 2050

Photo: Greg Goebel via flickr

Up to five billion people could experience extreme climates by 2050 if we do not cut emissions, according to a new study. The research found that changes to our climate “will be coming soon”.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii developed a climate timeframe after analysing all climate models. They predict that within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we’ve experienced in the past 150 years.

“The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon”, said lead author Camilo Mora.

“Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”

Under the business-as-usual scenario, in which the world does not take any new steps to contain carbon emissions, it was found the Earth would experience a radically different climate by 2047.

Even in the alternate scenario, where greenhouse gases are stabilised, the tipping point would only be delayed by 20 years, the study found.

The Tropics will be the first to experience a climate that exceeds the limits of historical extremes, and the change would have a devastating impact on both the ecosystem and the population.

Co-author of the report Dr Ryan Longman said, “Countries first impacted by unprecedented climates are the ones with the least capacity to respond.

“Ironically, these are the countries that are least responsible for climate change in the first place.”

Meanwhile, Mora added, “Scientists have repeatedly warned about climate change and its likely effects on biodiversity and people. Our study shows that such changes are already upon us.

“These results should not be a reason to give up. Rather, they should encourage us to reduce emissions and slow the rate of climate change. This can buy time for species, ecosystems, and ourselves to adapt to the coming changes.”

Further reading:

OECD warns there is no ‘climate bailout option’ 

Bob Geldof warns climate change might cause mass extinction by 2030 

Costing the Earth: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

CDP: climate change measures of FTSE 350 companies ‘insufficient’

LA Times: we will not publish letters that deny manmade climate change

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