Scientists found in a new study it’s already too late to meet President Barack Obama’s Paris global warming agreement goals.
The study, authored by an international team including scientists from nine different countries and published in Nature Wednesday, found limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius — the goal of the Paris agreement — is already essentially impossible according to the best available science.
Many scientists believe the United Nations global warming goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius was both politically motivated and not scientifically plausible. Previously, the U.N. defined a temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius as the threshold for “dangerous global warming” and stated a lower target was unfeasible and “naive.” The 1.5 degree target is so close to temperatures today, that it is effectively impossible to meet.
“It is impossible for a number of reasons,” Dr. Pat Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “First, the negotiators at Paris assumed that ALL warming since the industrial revolution was caused by greenhouse gases. This includes the 0.4 [degrees Celsius] of warming that occurred from 1910 to around 1945. If that were the case, the sensitivity of temperature to carbon dioxide would be incredibly high (very little was emitted by 1910) and it would be hotter than heck by now.”
New research published by the European Geosciences Union illustrated the potential risks of 1.5 degrees of global warming to island nations and coral reefs, but scientists estimated lowering the target to 1.5 degrees Celsius would cost a minimum of $12.1 trillion. The cost would likely rise as high as $16.5 trillion between 2016 and 2030 when energy efficiency measures are included.
Reaching such a low target would mostly benefit very small island nations threatened by rising sea levels. When island nations previously proposed the 1.5 degree target at a U.N. climate conference, they were met with vehement opposition.
“But by making that incredible mistake, they painted themselves into a corner,” Michaels continued. “The climate model for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, among others, calculates that there’s about 0.6 [degrees Celsius] of warming ‘in the pipeline’ because of the huge thermal lag of the ocean. If you assume that all 0.9 [degrees Celsius] of observed warming since the industrial revolution is caused by greenhouse gases, then 1.5 [degrees Celsius] is guaranteed.”
“The amazing backstory here is that either no one told the negotiators this, or they were told and ignored it,” Michaels concluded. “Either way it shows that Paris was a sham.”
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