7 June 2018
A 1.5 degree warmer world may result in vastly different outcomes at regional scales
A 1.5 degree warmer world may result in vastly different outcomes at regional scales

In the 1999 sci-fi classic The Matrix, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is offered the choice between a red and blue pill to decide his future.

UQ Global Change Institute Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said that unlike Neo’s simple binary conundrum, the climate change outcomes facing Earth were likely be a complex plethora of shades and colours, even if we were to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg is part of an international team of scientists who have written a cautionary essay in Nature this week, mapping out why climate change outcomes are likely to be a complex matter, regardless of mitigation efforts.

‘A 1.5 degree warmer world may result in vastly different outcomes at regional scales, owing to variations in the pace and locations of climate change and their interactions with society’s mitigation, adaption and vulnerabilities,’ the scientists argued.

Of all the different 1.5 degree stabilisation outcomes proposed, however, one factor remained common to every climate model scenario they examined.

The cumulative amount of CO2 emissions released into the Earth’s atmosphere today will continue to impact global climate as well as human and natural systems for more than a thousand years, even when future emissions were zero, they cautioned.

“Explicitly illustrating the full range of possible outcomes of 1.5 degree C warmer worlds is important for an adequate consideration of the implications of mitigation options by decision makers,” the scientists said.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, a prominent marine scientist and co-author of the Nature paper, said these figures equally applied to the world’s oceans.

“The models could hardly be clearer, we have no time to waste and we simply must drive the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases to zero in the next few decades or face serious consequences,” he said.

The Paris Agreement’s aim of 1.5 °C warming may result in many possible climates, Sonia I. Seneviratne, Joeri Rogelj, Roland Séférian, Richard Wartenburger, Myles R. Allen, Michelle Cain,  Richard J. Millar, Kristie L. Ebi, Neville Ellis, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Antony J. Payne, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Petra Tschakert & Rachel F. Warren, Nature 7 June 2018 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0181-4


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