Home Sciences What would happen if the world cut all its emissions today?

What would happen if the world cut all its emissions today?


Imagine the planet’s atmosphere as a Cup of coffee and greenhouse gas emissions such as a teaspoon that, for decades now, stirs and alters the contents of the vessel. Now imagine that we intend to stop stirring the drink. Even if we were to pick up the spoon right now, either all at once or gradually, the coffee would remain tainted for a while. Like that coffee, the climate also follows a certain inertia; something that, according to the experts, should be taken into account to design stronger climate measures and pacts to avert climate catastrophe.

The scenario is the following. If the humanity will slam on the brakes all its greenhouse gas emissions, there would still be a 42% chance to suffer a global rise in temperatures above 1.5 degrees on average; the threshold from which, as hundreds of studies and analyzes warn, the climate crisis will cause much more serious damage to people’s health, biodiversity and ecosystems. This is due to the life (and especially the longevity) of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Also to those issued decades ago.

According to a new study published this Monday in the scientific journal ‘Nature Climate Change’, even if we stopped today all emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and miscellaneous aerosols, global thermometers would rise at least 0.2 degrees. This, added to current global warming, would already raise thermometers above 1.5 degrees on average compared to the pre-industrial era. This increase in temperatures could last 10-20 years before, as we said at the beginning, the climate stabilized again.

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As argued michelle dvoraka scientist at the University of Washington and author of this analysis, “it is important to differentiate how much global warming can be avoided with our actions and how much is unavoidable due to past emissions“. This premise is key to understanding the future of “climatic phenomena that respond rapidly to changes in global temperature, such as the evolution arctic ice and the extreme events such as heat waves or floods,” adds Kyle Armorassociate professor of atmospheric sciences and co-author of this study.

“It is important to differentiate how much global warming can be avoided with our actions and how much is unavoidable due to past emissions”

michelle dvorak

more robust measures

This is not the first (and certainly not the last) wake up call launched by the scientific community to curb the climate crisis. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that, to prevent extreme global warming, global emissions must peak before 2025 and fall practically by half before reaching 2030. In this sense, the experts ask apply “quick”, “deep” and “immediate” mitigation strategies at all levels of society. Starting, for example, with “a substantial reduction in the use of fossil fuels.”

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Stopping the climate crisis is still possible, but not with the climate plans agreed to date. A recent analysis of short-term and short-term climate commitments estimates that current ‘climate promises’ only offer a 10% chance to limit the global increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees. “The actions taken to date to address this global challenge are clearly insufficient“, warned just a few days ago a manifesto promoted by twenty scientists from around the world.

Until now, experts argue, the vast majority of climate plans have simply raised “incremental changes” Y “actions that fit” at current development standards. But to mitigate the advance of the climate crisis, it would be necessary to promote “transformative, deep and urgent changes in economies and societies”. More so if we take into account that, as the study at the head of this article points out, the measures we take now it will take decades to curb rising temperatures.

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