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According to a leading former NASA scientist, global warming will exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold this year.
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According to a leading former NASA scientist, global warming will exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold this year.

The individual recognized as the pioneer of climate science has cautioned that the globally accepted limit to avoid the Earth from entering a new extremely hot period will be surpassed by 2024, for all intents and purposes.

In the 1980s, James Hansen, a former Nasa scientist, warned the world about the hazards of climate change. He stated that the burning of fossil fuels and the natural occurrence of El Niño will lead to global warming, causing temperatures to potentially rise by 1.7C (3F) above the pre-industrial average by May.

The recorded high temperature throughout the 12-month span until May will not alone surpass the pledge made by governments worldwide to restrict the rise in global temperature to 1.5C (2.7F) from the pre-industrial era before the use of fossil fuels. Experts state that the 1.5C threshold will not be considered breached until a series of consecutive years surpass this limit, with this occurrence predicted to potentially happen in the 2030s.

Hansen stated that despite the decline of El Niño, which usually results in higher global temperatures, the following years will still average at the 1.5C limit when considered as a whole. According to Hansen, the increase in global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions is being compounded by secondary effects, such as the melting of ice on the planet’s surface, which leads to a darker surface and greater absorption of sunlight.

Hansen told the Guardian that we are currently transitioning to a world with a 1.5 degree Celsius increase. He also mentioned that if someone were to bet $100 against this, they would likely win a free donut, assuming they could find someone gullible enough to take the bet.

In a recent report co-authored by two other experts in climate studies, Hansen declares that the maximum limit of 1.5C for global warming has essentially been exceeded, as the significant imbalance of energy on our planet guarantees that the average temperature will continue to rise. Hansen has advocated for the belief, which is not universally accepted among climate scientists, that the speed of global warming is increasing due to a growing disparity between the amount of solar energy the Earth absorbs and the amount it releases back into space.

Hansen, famous for his contribution in publicly disclosing the start of the greenhouse effect to the US Congress in 1988, stated that the imminent failure to maintain the 1.5C limit should serve as a wake-up call for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading authority on climate science that has identified strategies to prevent surpassing the goal.

Hansen stated that reaching the 1.5C world is a notable achievement, as it proves that the United Nations’ narrative, supported by its scientific advisory group, the IPCC, is false.

We will not permanently enter a 1.5C world, but rather briefly cross through it in 2024. However, if we do not intentionally take action to impact the Earth’s energy balance, we will reach the 2C (3.6F) world in the 2030s.

Last year was the hottest ever recorded, scientific agencies in the US and the European Union are expected to confirm this week, with the global temperature for 2023 close to being 1.5C above the pre-industrial era. El Niño, which heats up sections of the Pacific Ocean and normally adds to the overall global temperature, is anticipated to be even stronger this year than last, before fading away.

At the UN climate conference in Dubai in December, world leaders reinforced their previous promise, made in Paris in 2015, to work towards limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5C. However, experts have cautioned that current levels of greenhouse gas emissions and continued plans for extensive oil and gas drilling are leading the world off course from this goal. In fact, carbon emissions from fossil fuels reached a new peak last year.

According to experts, going beyond the 1.5C target would have severe consequences such as increased heatwaves, droughts, floods, and other disasters. While this goal is both a political and scientific one, it holds significant importance for developing countries and small island nations that are vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events. The agreed upon goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C has been a highly contested and symbolic one, with “1.5 to stay alive” becoming a commonly used phrase at global climate conferences.

Hansen’s claim that this year will mark the beginning of a 1.5C era has been met with caution by other scientists interviewed by The Guardian. Drew Shindell, a climate expert from Duke University, stated that this year’s temperatures were unusually high due to El Niño and that subsequent years will be a better measure of whether the 1.5C goal is still attainable.

However, he stated that the current state of affairs suggests that the world is quickly approaching the 1.5C limit, which could potentially be reached in the 2020s instead of the previously predicted 2030s. This is due to the rapid warming in recent years, further supporting Jim’s argument that we are rapidly entering a post-1.5C era.

In my opinion, the specific year of 2024 or 2027 is insignificant when it comes to impacting our choices. We must take immediate action to shift direction, or else we risk being unable to maintain a temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, similar to how the goal of 1.5 degrees has become unattainable. According to Shindell, this course of action is crucial.

Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather of Stripe and Berkeley Earth stated that he has some disagreement with Hansen regarding global temperatures not dropping below 1.4C above pre-industrial levels due to a counteractive La Niña event, which is the opposite of El Niño. However, Hausfather believes that as the Earth continues to warm, these temperatures will no longer be typical in the future. He also predicts that the long-term average will surpass 1.5C by the early 2030s.

According to Andrew Dessler, a climate researcher at Texas A&M University, it is also estimated to take approximately 10 years to surpass the 1.5C limit. However, Dessler believes that Hansen’s perspective should not be dismissed lightly. He acknowledges that Hansen, who is regarded as one of the most accomplished climate scientists, may ultimately be proven correct.

Researchers emphasize that surpassing a temperature increase of 1.5C does not guarantee irreversible damage, but every small change, whether an increase or decrease, plays a significant role in determining the extent of climate consequences. Despite governments’ promises to reduce emissions, their current actions suggest a potential warming of 2.5C (4.5F) by the end of the century.

Kerry Emanuel, an expert in climate and meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes that focusing on a specific threshold is not the most important question. According to him, there are no definitive numbers when it comes to climate change, only increasing risks.

Emanuel referenced recent extreme heatwaves, wildfires, and storms that have been intensified by a global temperature increase of 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) since the early 1900s. He expressed hope that once half of the world’s population has personally experienced one of these natural disasters, they will demand action from their leaders. He also expressed his desire for it not to take such significant suffering for change to occur.

Source: theguardian.com