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Half a Degree May Make Heat Impact Far Worse

Half a degree of warming doesn’t sound like much.  But there is fresh evidence that it could make a huge difference to rainfall and drought.

The US south-west may have more drought and forest fires with 0.5°C more heat. (Image Credit: RD Gray on Unsplash) Click to Enlarge.

Japanese scientists have found new evidence that a global average temperature rise as small as half a degree could have a drastic effect.

They conclude that the world cannot afford to delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming to 1.5°C by 2100 – the “ideal target” enshrined in the promise by 195 nations to limit warming to well below 2°C above the long-term average for most of human history.

The evidence is this:  a shift of even 0.5°C could make a dramatic difference to the risks of devastating droughts and calamitous floods.

If governments keep to the letter of the Paris Agreement of 2015 but not the spirit, and let warming rise to the maximum of 2°, then there will be more intense rainfall across North America, Europe, and Asia, and more intense droughts around the Mediterranean.

And although the average intensity of each flood or drought would increase measurably, the intensity of the most extreme event could be even more intense:  10 times greater.  That is:  the worst imaginable floods 80 years from now would be ten times worse than the worst today.

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