Two is very rarely considered a big number. In terms of climate change, though, Two is generally considered to be massive.
Starting at Two as the number of degrees Celsius we can afford to warm the earth above pre-industrial levels to avoid dangerous climate change – a number accepted by the G8/G20 nations – the Met Office Hadley Centre has now analysed our chances of staying below Two within this century.
With their improbably titled HadGEM2-ES computer system they have crunched all the outputs and inputs that make global atmospherics tick: the carbon cycle, the other greenhouse gases like methane and ozone, and more arcane factors such as ocean plankton emissions and soot from combustion, otherwise known as ‘black carbon’.
And the verdict? Well, they have not decreed utter doom and despair – but they do have some tough words of warning.
One positive note is their assertion that the current target to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels (following a greenhouse gas peak, well, not far from now) is consistent with halting a two degree rise.
So that’s good.
But it isn’t going to come about through ‘business as usual.’ The Met Office’s findings suggest that we are going to need the full armoury of cutting-edge technology and engineering methods, to win in the fight against Two. Right now we are in the battle to implement all that technology, change the way we think about what we do, and get people actually to change their habits – which has to happen if we’re going to beat the target.
And if we do make it that far? There can be no resting on laurels. Projections suggest that Two will pursue us beyond 2050 and even 2100, and that emissions will have to keep being cut. So our kids and grandkids will be battling Two as well.
Well, that’s what the Met Office says.
Whatever your feelings on this area of ‘heated discussion’, the findings are interesting. Take a look. And tell us what you think!