Imagine that tomorrow, the whole world will stop building things that burn fossil fuels—cars and planes, power plants, and housing tracts. How much more global warming would the planet endure?
This might sound like an environmentalist's dream—or a CEO's nightmare—but it's a serious question addressed by a new study published in the September 10 issue of Science.
If we were to go on using the things we already have, but didn't build new things that used fossil fuel, then the planet would heat up another 0.5ºF to 1.2ºF (0.3ºC to 0.7ºC), the study estimates.
This would keep the total amount of warming, since pre-industrial times, to less than 3.6ºF (2ºC), according to the study.
This amount of warming happens to be the threshold identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as important for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. A wide-ranging coalition of 47 environmental, science, and faith-based groups last year endorsed 2ºC as “a key guide post to measure our efforts to tackle global warming pollution.” And it was the magic number cited in the nonbinding agreement to limit global temperature increases signed by industrialized countries at the international climate summit last December in Copenhagen.
The new results show "we still have it in our hands" to meet this target, said Niklas Höhne, a climate policy expert at the consultancy Ecofys in Cologne, Germany, who was not involved in the new study.
(National Geographic) Read more
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