By Carlo Versano
The planet will begin to see the effects of climate change sooner ー and more broadly ー than experts originally thought, according to a landmark report by a UN commission of dozens of climate scientists released Monday.
The report from the IPCC focuses on what will happen if the Earth warms by 1.5 degrees Celsius, a lower benchmark for catastrophe than the former consensus of 2 degrees.
"Small island nations and poor nations view 1.5 as the target that will guarantee their actual survival," Axios' science editor Andrew Freedman said Monday in an interview on Cheddar. Freedman added scientists found that much of the damage they initially predicted would come with 2 degrees of warming will actually happen at the lower threshold ー that includes the obliteration of the world's coral reefs, mass water and food shortages, and huge new migrations of climate refugees.
Perhaps a more startling prediction: the world's population will see these changes by 2040, well within the lifetime of billions of people.
The report goes on to conclude that the global economy would effectively need to "stop on a dime" to deal with the impacts of climate change in time to reverse them, Freedman said.
For the U.S., the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, the prescriptions suggested in the report ー like huge carbon taxes and all but eliminating coal ー are "politically dead on arrival," Freedman noted.
President Trump, who has called climate change a "hoax," has already said the U.S. will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, which this report said the world is unlikely to meet anyway. Paris was itself based on the former 2 degree Celsius threshold.
The report's authors take at least one optimistic tone on carbon capture technology, which has so far been too expensive to implement widely but could hold promise for reversing emissions even after the 1.5 degree benchmark is breached.
Still, even in that scenario much of the damage would already have been done.
"We are in for serious impacts," Freedman said. "[This report] lays out a very stark scenario of what we're up against."
The IPCC report was released just as this year's Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded to two professors studying the economic impact of climate change.
For full interview click here.