Global warming is fast approaching the point of no return. But what happens as the planet gets warmer, degree by degree?
You’ve probably heard of the 2°C limit. It’s the point at which global warming will cause devastating and irreversible damage to Planet Earth.
We’re already racing past 1.5°C – the point that most scientists have urged us to maintain. And the effects are already being felt.
Here’s what happens to our planet and the people on it as the the world gets warmer.
[Note: Each degree denotes the warming compared to pre-industrial levels. In other words, the increase in warming since we started pumping CO2 into the air.]
- This is where we are right now. In fact, we recently tipped over 1.5 degrees celsius.
- Polar ice caps have already lost 400 cubic kilometers of ice.
- Low lying islands (like the Maldives) prepare for extinction.
- Mountains are crumbling. Literally. The permafrost holding them together is melting, causing increased landslides and avalanches.
- Increased hurricanes and freak weather in the US and Caribbean (due to warmer waters).
- If we stay at this temperature, we’ll lose a third of all fresh water from the world’s surface by 2010.
- Sea levels rise by a meter. The city of Miami and even New York begin to disappear underwater.
- London, Bangkok and Shanghai suffer severe flooding.
- Half of all humans resettle on higher ground. It creates a migration of epic proportions.
- Glaciers and rivers begin to disappear completely.
A third of all life on Earth faces extinction due to high temperatures, loss of habitat and lack of water.
- Vegetation growth slows and plants stops absorbing carbon dioxide. In fact, the process is reversed, and plants begin to emit carbon dioxide.
- This is the point of no return.
- Hurricanes become so strong they destroy the south-east coast of America.
- The rising North Sea engulfs Holland.
- 40% of the Amazon rainforest disappears.
- Mass starvation occurs as farmers find it near impossible to grow crops.
- Plants, trees, and soil are now releasing huge amounts of carbon, which could trigger another rapid 1.5 degree celsius rise.
- Heat-stroke will kill as many as 15,000 annually in every major city.
- 80% of sea ice has disappeared.
- Mass migration sees millions of people move from Africa to Europe, and Central America to the USA.
- Nationalist tensions rise as politicians try to stop the mass migration.
- The ice at the north and south poles has completely disappeared.
- The sea level rises as much as 50 meters.
- Oxford, UK becomes a ‘coastal town’ as waters close in.
- Brighton, UK hits highs of 45 degrees celsius (That’s classed as a ‘heatwave’ in India at today’s levels).
- In Europe and USA, people escape coastal cities to seek higher ground.
- China’s agriculture finally fails, leaving billions of people without food.
- Palm trees are now growing in England
- Civil wars break out across the world over scarce food sources and the effects of mass migration.
- Trapped methane hydrate from the ocean begins to release. (Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 times more devastating than carbon dioxide).
- The last time the planet was this hot, it ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs.
- Rainforests become deserts.
- Conflict and civil war is exacerbated by uncontrollable migration.
- Super -hurricanes are triggered by warm waters which wipe out low-lying civilizations.
- Methane hydrate escapes into the air. A simple lightning strike could ignite the methane, causing fireballs across the sky with the power of an atomic bomb.
- This could wipe out billions of people in a day.