10 Worst-Case Climate Predictions if We Don’t Keep Global Temperatures Under 1.5 Degrees Celsius

The summer of 2018 was intense: deadly wildfires, persistent drought, killer floods and record-breaking heat. Although scientists exercise great care before linking individual weather events to climate change, the rise in global temperatures caused by human activities has been found to increase the severity, likelihood and duration of such conditions.

Globally, 2018 is on pace to be the fourth-hottest year on record. Only 2015, 2016 and 2017 were hotter. The Paris climate agreement aims to hold temperature rise below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, but if humankind carries on its business-as-usual approach to climate change, there's a 93 percent chance we're barreling toward a world that is 4 degrees Celsius warmer by the end of the century, a potentially catastrophic level of warming.

A Warning and a Reckoning

In 1992, 1,700 scientists around the world issued a chilling "warning to humanity." The infamous letter declared that humans were on a "collision course" with the natural world if they did not rein in their environmentally damaging activities.

Such apocalyptic thinking might be easy to mock, and not entirely helpful in inspiring political action if end times are nigh. In 2017, however, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries co-signed their names to an updated—and even bleaker—version of the 1992 manifesto.

The latest version, titled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice," asserts that most of the environmental challenges raised in the original letter—i.e., depletion of freshwater sources, overfishing, plummeting biodiversity, unsustainable human population growth—remain unsolved and are "getting far worse."

"Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising [greenhouse gases] from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption," the paper states.

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