Scientists have cautioned that the world is at risk of entering ‘hothouse’ conditions where global average temperatures will rise to 4-5 degrees Celsius higher, even if emissions reduction targets under a global climate deal are met.
Presently, global average temperatures are just over 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial period and rises at 0.17C every decade.
About 200 countries had agreed in 2015 to limit temperature rise to “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a threshold believed to be a tipping point for the climate.
The latest report by scientists from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, University of Copenhagen, Australian National University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, indicates that if the world crosses a critical threshold, several tipping points will lead to sudden changes.
Such processes include permafrost thaw; the loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor; weaker land and ocean carbon sinks; loss and reduction of Arctic summer sea ice and polar ice sheets.
Co-author of the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Johan Rockström, said: “These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over, it pushes the Earth towards another.
“It may be very difficult to stop the whole row of dominoes from tumbling over. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if ‘Hothouse Earth’ becomes the reality.”
The report is an aftermath of intense heat wave that has pushed temperatures above 40C (104 Fahrenheit) in Europe this summer, causing drought and wildfires, including blazes in Greece that killed 91 people in July.
However, it remains unclear whether global climate could be safely “parked” near 2C above pre industrial levels or whether this might trigger other processes, which drive further warming even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases, the report added.
It further revealed that maximising the chances of avoiding such a “hothouse” state requires more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, improved forests, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground are needed.
Commenting on the development, climate researcher at the University of East Anglia, Phil Williamson, said uncontrolled warming is still uncertain but not implausible.
“In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight,” he said.
A former director, Centre for Environmental Human Resources Development (CENHURD), University of Lagos, Professor Babajide Alo, explained that global climate change scenarios and increasing temperatures are inevitable as a result of global warming.
He observed that abundant science data showed that there would be increase temperature as global warming scenario continues because of Green House Gas Emissions (GHGE).
Meanwhile, the Development Exchange Centre (DEC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the Emir of Misau in Bauchi State have advocated the fighting global warming by donated 10,000 trees seedlings to the residents.
This step was as a result of the rainstorm that wrecked havoc in the state in June, during which over 1,500 structures were destroyed.
Executive Director of DEC, Titi Yakubu disclosed this while handing over the seedlings to the Emir, Alhaji Suleiman in Misau, saying the project was aimed at halting global warming triggered by increasing desertification.