“Cascading climate impacts can be expected to cause higher mortality rates, drive political instability and greater national insecurity, and fuel regional and international conflict.” This is according to a recent report by Chatham House, a major think tank for government officials. In the report they describe the compounding risks of climate change, warning that “without immediate action the impacts will be devastating.”
If greenhouse gas emissions continue at the same rate, there’s a less than 1% chance of reaching the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping temperatures below 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels. But even if all countries did reach goals set by the Paris Agreement, it still wouldn’t be adequate to address the climate crisis!
The report also points out the shortfalls of countries’ current focus on net zero pledges, as they “lack policy detail and delivery mechanisms.” With “the deficit between targets and the global carbon budget… widening every year,” we need more than talk about a future with net zero emissions, we need real action now.
As a call to action, the report encourages the governments of highly emitting countries to dramatically increase their efforts to mitigate climate change. Otherwise, many climate change impacts will “become so severe they go beyond the limits of what nations can adapt to.” As one example, by “the 2030s, 400 million people globally each year are likely to be exposed to temperatures exceeding the workability threshold. Also by the 2030s, the number of people on the planet exposed to heat stress exceeding the survivability threshold is likely to surpass 10 million a year.”
As far as food goes, agriculture yields are expected to decline without “dramatic emissions reductions.” Massive global crop failure is almost certain. Wheat and rice, a large portion of the global population’s calorific intake, will be in shortened supply because of “damaging hot spells.” And by 2040, almost 700 million people are expected to be living in drought for more than half the year. Understandably, this will lead to more climate refugees, as people are forced to flee in search of food and water.
And these effects are just the tip of the iceberg. Increased pests and disease, flooding, wildfires, storms and cyclones – all will create feedback loops that compound each impact and lead to more death and despair. So promises of a greener future won’t cut it. We need to see climate change as the crisis that it is, requiring we use every resource that we have to fight against it now. The continued existence of our species is at stake.