The Paris Climate Change Agreement Won't Keep Warming Below 2 Degrees

There's no Plan B, but we may need to rethink our Plan A. PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

In any case – and this is where things get decidedly grim – this study actually highlights another problem with the Paris agreement, as noble as it is. For many parts of the world, whether we break or stick to the 2°C (3.6°F) limit, the damage is already being done, irrevocably so.

A recent study revealed that no matter what humanity does at this point, many parts of the Middle East and North Africa will be so hot as to be uninhabitable by the end of the century. Arctic Amplification, a unique climatological phenomenon in the far north, is already disintegrating ice caps, glaciers and sea ice at unprecedented speeds. Agriculture cannot keep up with such a rapidly warming environment.

These problems are all occurring right now, so the Paris agreement can do nothing to stop them from happening. That, unfortunately, is precisely the point – all of this will still happen even in the best case scenario.

If the world continues burning fossil fuels as it’s always done, something known as the “business-as-usual” model, then it’s fairly apocalyptic: The Arctic will warm by 20°C (36°F), as the rest of the world warms on average by about half that. Sea level rises will be catastrophically rapid, and many low-lying cities will be engulfed. The world could lose 17 percent of its total wealth. People will suffer, and Africa will likely be worst hit.

The world can be saved, but for parts of it, it’s already too late.

Renewables and nuclear power are, at present, the best chance at cutting carbon emissions. Gabriela Insuratelu/Shutterstock

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