Climate Change

Current climate reports might have underestimated the consequences of the climate crisis

The models do not consider methane emissions from permafrost thawing and carbon releases from droughts 

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 16 August 2022

The actual impact of anthropogenic climate change has been undermined till now, claimed a new report published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report looked at the direct consequences of temperature rise but ignored the ‘knock-on’ effects like war, financial crisis, diseases and further calamities like hampered agricultural production. IPCC is a United Nations body responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change. 

Currently, climate models do not consider the consequences of methane emissions from permafrost thawing and carbon releases from droughts and forest fires in the Amazon because more research is needed in these areas. 

Extreme heat, defined as an annual temperature of 29°C or above, could affect over 2 billion people in another 50 years if emissions continue. The four horsemen of the climate endgame — famine, extreme weather, war and disease — have been severely underestimated. 

Analyzing extreme scenarios might help in their prevention and build societal resilience, said Luke Kemp, from the University of Cambridge’s Center for the Study of Existential Risk and lead author of the study. 

When discussions about a ‘nuclear winter’ started in the 1980s, it spurred disarmament efforts in the global community. The report argues that the most critical consequences of temperatures breaching 3°C have been under-examined, with limited quantitative data. 

Global catastrophic risk also accounts for the probability of losing 25 per cent of the global population and the threat to food systems within a few decades. 

This ‘endgame’ might be reached by the end of the century because right now, only nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are not enough to slow down global warming. NDCs are not being adhered to, but even if they are, temperatures might breach 2.4°C. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of being prepared for rare but high-impact global risks. While the report might sound alarmist in nature, it might be worth considering this catastrophic picture portrayed if it were to come alive.

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