The World Bank report, “Turn Down the Heat,” (available in pdf form here warns of severe climate effects even if we manage to limit global warming to 2 degrees C., and a much worse fate if we go to 4 degrees C.
The world is now putting 35 billion metric tons of C02 into the atmosphere every year (5 billion of that, or 14%, is generated by the US, which is only 5% of the world’s population). By 2022 or so we may be putting out 42 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. If we go on like this, we will certainly produce a “4 degrees C. world” — a worst case scenario, in which our climate becomes unstable and there are floods, droughts and heat waves on a scale that make a typical Hollywood summer disaster movie look like a Smurf cartoon.
The report says that the warming will produce massive flooding in parts of Asia, a 50% reduction in the fish catch in southeast Asia, and severe and prolonged drought in Africa.
Or, as Max Follmer put it, Africa will starve, and Asia will drown, with major impacts beginning as soon as 30 years from now.
Excerpts from the report:
“In the absence of climate change, extreme heat waves in Europe, Russia, and the United States, for example, would be expected to occur only once every several hundred years. Observations indicate a tenfold increase in the surface area of the planet experiencing extreme heat since the 1950s. The area of the Earth’s land surface affected by drought has also likely increased substantially over the last 50 years, somewhat faster than projected by climate models. The 2012 drought in the United States impacted about 80 percent of agricultural land, making it the most severe drought since the 1950s. Negative effects of higher temperatures have been observed on agricultural production, with recent studies indicating that since the 1980s global maize and wheat production may have been reduced significantly compared to a case without climate change.”
Drought and Flood
“In a world rapidly warming toward 4°C, the most adverse impacts on water availability are likely to occur in association with growing water demand as the world population increases.
Some estimates indicate that a 4°C warming would significantly exacerbate existing water scarcity in many regions, particularly northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, while additional countries in Africa would be newly confronted with water scarcity on a national scale due to population growth.
• Drier conditions are projected for southern Europe, Africa (except some areas in the northeast), large parts of North America and South America, and southern Australia, among others.
• Wetter conditions are projected in particular for the northern high latitudes—that is, northern North America, northern Europe, and Siberia—and in some monsoon regions. Some regions may experience reduced water stress compared to a case without climate change.”
40% of US emissions are from dirty coal plants, the most polluting of our energy sources. All of these plants should be closed in 10 years and replaced with wind, solar and other renewables.