Jason Hickel writes: If you look closely at the Paris agreement, you’ll notice a curious contradiction. The text commits the world’s governments to limiting global warming to no more than 2C above preindustrial levels. But, strangely enough, the emissions reductions it lays out don’t actually get us there. Far from it. Even if all the world’s countries meet their targets (which is very unlikely, since the targets are non-binding) if we do nothing else we’ll still be hurtling toward more than 3C of global warming, and possibly as high as 4.4C. Way over the threshold.
What might our planet look like if it warms by 4C? No one can say for certain, but projections show that this level of warming is likely to bring about heatwaves not seen on Earth for 5m years. Southern Europe could dry up into a desert. Sea levels could rise by 1.2 meters before the century is out, drowning cities like Amsterdam and New York. Furthermore, 40% of species will be at risk of extinction. Most of our rainforests will wither away. Crop yields could collapse by 35%, destabilising the world’s food system and triggering widespread famine. In short, a 4C world looks very bleak indeed.
So why is nobody sounding the alarm about this? Why is nobody freaking out? The Paris agreement assures us that everything will be OK. But scientists are not so convinced.