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“To avoid disaster, we must be fully aware of it”

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[EN VIDÉO] Global warming: our planet in unknown territory
In the preliminary version – which only covers the first nine months of 2021 – of its annual State of the Global Climate report, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirms the trend of global warming. For the first time, the bar of a rise of 1°C compared to pre-industrial averages has been crossed over the period of the last twenty years. But the report above all highlights the many extreme weather phenomena that have occurred in 2021 and their consequences for the planet and for humanity. © World Meteorological Organization

What will happen to our world if temperatures were to rise by +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era? What if they finally rise by +2°C? For a few months, a few years, many research works have looked into the question. Because these anthropogenic global warming values ​​correspond to the objectives set by the Paris Climate Agreement. But what if we fail to sufficiently limit our greenhouse gas emissions ? If temperatures ended up increasing by +3°C? Or even more? If we really had to face the worst scenario?

Of the Cambridge University researchers (United Kingdom) call today to very seriously ask the question. To begin to prepare for the possibility of severe harm to humanity, “climatic endgame”. Even if the chances of this happening are still relatively low for the time being.

According to the researchers, ” the anthropogenic global warming could become catastrophic. There are even many reasons to believe so. » And not only if the temperatures were to really rise more than necessary. Also in the case — possibly more likely — where this warming should end up causing cascades of events. In other words, if from a risk ” simple “we found ourselves facing a risk ” compound “. “As is usually the case in the real world. »

Be aware of the real risk to take action

Thus, the risk with global warming is not only the rise in temperatures and the effects directly associated and rather well studied by scientists. It is also the risk of financial crises, armed conflicts or pandemicsassociates, for example. And according to researchers at the University of Cambridge, all this remains “dangerously underexplored”.

To give an example, the researchers show that, in the worst-case scenario, some 2 billion people could be forced to live under an average temperature of more than 29°C by 2070. This is already the case for 30 million of people today. But tomorrow, these extreme temperatures could reach – and destabilize – politically more fragile regions, in particular. Of them nuclear powers . Seven laboratories in which are confined pathogens potentially dangerous. With the consequences that we imagine.

More generally, the researchers call for work on the links between global warming and those they describe as “four horsemen” of the “climatic endgame” : famine and malnutrition, extreme weather conditions, conflicts and vector-borne diseases. Without forgetting the “collateral threats” such as the growth of inequalities and disinformation or thecollapse of democracy.

“The more we learn about how our planet works, the more there is cause for concernsays Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany). Our planet is both sophisticated and fragile. To avoid disaster, we must be fully aware of it.” So what the researchers hope is that, like the effect that work on nuclear winter has had on disarmament, studies of worst-case climate scenarios will forcepublic actionto finally get down to serious work.

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