WMO Report Shows 50% Chance of Breaking 1.5C Limit
New data released from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows that in the next five years there is a 50-50 chance of the earth breaking the 1.5-degree Celsius limit established during the Paris Agreement. According to the Guardian, the likelihood of reaching this threshold has only increased in recent years: “As recently as 2015, there was zero chance of this happening in the following five years. But this surged to 20% in 2020 and 40% in 2021.”
However, even if this limit is breached once, it doesn’t necessarily mean this level of warming will become a long-term trend. “That circumstance could be avoided completely if carbon emissions drop fast enough, even if some short-term spikes cross the 1.5-degree threshold,” said Micheal Mann, a Penn State scientist.
Reuters: World could see 1.5C of warming in next five years, May 10, 2022.
WMO: The WMO State of the Global Climate in 2021, May 18, 2022.
The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 7, 2021.
Why This Matters
Inside Climate News states, “the WMO report found there is a 93% chance that at least one year between 2022-2026 will be the warmest on record and a 93% chance that the five-year average for [those years] will be higher than the last five years.”
The study also predicts environmental trends for the earth, showing rapid heating at the north pole and continued drought conditions in the Southwestern United States. These negative trends will further exacerbate the climate crisis, leading to wildfires, habitat loss, and increased warming.
MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.
CBS: Megadrought in the West threatens energy and water security, May 5, 2022.
A Dangerous Tipping Point
As the earth moves toward the 1.5-degree limit, devastating changes in the natural world become more likely. The majority of the Western US is experiencing a megadrought with Lake Mead's and Lake Powell’s water levels sitting at record lows, heatwaves in India and Pakistan, and record ice melt in the arctic.
“Even at 1.5C, many of the world's coral reefs will be wiped out, and permafrost in some places could reach a tipping point,” reports CNN in reference to the portion of the IPCC report released in February. Essentially, the majority of ecosystems will be negatively impacted by this warming threshold, making the timeframe within which to drastically cut carbon emissions increasingly urgent.
The 1.5 limit is a warning sign for all people. “As long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise,” stated WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Alongside our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme.
BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.
Reuters: Water levels in Lake Mead reach historic low, May 12, 2022.
BBC: UN scientists say it's 'now or never' to limit global warming, April 4, 2022.
CBS: Huge carbon emissions cuts needed, UN climate report finds, April 4, 2022.