From The New Mexico Political Report (Laura Paskus):
If humans don’t drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade, we will not stop warming that’s expected to have widespread and catastrophic impacts upon the Earth’s ecosystems.
That’s one of the most pointed findings in a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was tasked with studying how a 2.0° Celsius rise in global temperature will affect the planet, its ecosystems and human communities, compared with a 1.5°C temperature increase.
According to the IPCC’s special report, if the Earth’s temperature increases by more than 1.5°C, the changes will be “long-lasting” and “irreversible.”
Already, the global temperature—averaged between land and sea temperatures—has risen 1° Celsius, or 1.8° Fahrenheit, since 1880. That change has contributed to sea level rise, the melting of Arctic sea ice, coral bleaching of ocean reefs and ocean acidification. In places like the American Southwest, warming is already affecting snowpack, forest dieoffs, water supplies and wildfire season.
“The more warming that we cause, the broader and more intense are the impacts in general,” said University of New Mexico Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor David Gutzler, in summing up the main message of the report. “So, even for regions or components of the climate system for which the difference between 1.5° and 2° doesn’t represent a big threshold or tipping point, the impacts of climate change get considerably bigger.”
That’s true here in New Mexico, where average annual temperatures have already increased by 2°F just since the 1970s, according to a number of sources, including a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The faster rate of temperature increase here is due to the fact that continents warm more quickly than oceans, Gutzler explained: “The world is mostly ocean, and we are in the middle of a continent, so when people talk about global warming of one, two or three degrees, for our region, we’re thinking about double those numbers.”