Climate: World not preparing enough for the worst, scientists warn

In a study published on Tuesday, scientists warned of the potential for a string of disasters caused by global warming “dangerously unexplored” by the international community, and called on the world to think of the worst to better prepare for it.

In an article published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), researchers argue that too little work has been devoted to the mechanisms that can lead to “catastrophic” and “irreversible” risks to humanity: for example, if increases in temperatures worse than expected or if it causes a chain of events not yet conceived, or if it causes both.

“It’s about the most important scenarios that we don’t know very much about,” wrote Luke Kemp, of the Cambridge Center for the Study of Existential Risk.

Consider risky scenarios

The more research on critical points in Earth’s climate—such as the irreversible thawing of the ice cap or the loss of the Amazon rainforest—the more It becomes necessary to consider high-risk scenarios in climate modelingJohan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts and co-author explains.

“Disaster pathways are not limited to the direct effects of rising temperatures, such as extreme weather events. The cascading effects such as financial crises, conflicts and new epidemics can lead to other disastersand hinder recovery from potential disasters such as nuclear war,” Luke Kemp adds.

The team proposes a response to a research program to help governments combat the “Four Horsemen” of a “climate apocalypse”: famine and malnutrition, extreme weather events, conflict, and vector-borne diseases.

The authors point out that successive scientific reports of United Nations climate experts (IPCC) have mainly focused on the projected effects of a 1.5 to 2°C warming.

But current government actions have instead set the Earth on a trajectory for a warming of 2.7°C by the end of the century, far from the 1.5°C targeted by the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Prioritize the least bad scenario

The study suggests that the scientific tendency to “favor the least-bad scenario” has led to insufficient attention being paid to the potential effects of a warming of 3°C or more.

These researchers have calculated that areas of extreme heat – with an average annual temperature of more than 29°C – could affect two billion people by 2070.

These temperatures pose a high risk of “breadcrumbs” from droughts like those currently hitting Western Europe and heat waves like those that hit India’s wheat crop in March/April.

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