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Global Warming Consequences: How a 2°C Warmer World Will Look like

by | Jun 7, 2022 | Dystopia

Last Updated on February 7, 2023

Our planet is getting warmer and if things continue to go like this our geography will change and daily life won’t be the same. The goal is to keep the temperature of Earth below 2 degrees Celsius.

Since the industrial revolution, the global temperature has warmed between 0.86°C. The majority of this warming occurred in the past few decades. There are some disagreements over the definition of climate change temperature objective.

The term temperature is used to describe the average temperature of the earth’s surface and it has many different meanings, from describing the average air temperature to defining global warming which is the amount of heat emitted by human activities.

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans that has been observed over the past century and other periods. Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming.

Each of the last four decades has been hotter than the previous one. We are already feeling the effects of global warming, now imagine adding 2 degrees. While it may not seem significant, a 2 degrees increase in global warming would be catastrophic.

In the last four decades, the Pacific Northwest has suffered heavy rains, Greenland has experienced massive melting events and Siberia has been hit by wildfires. If the planet gets 2 degrees warmer, these climate effects will only become worse and will bring a lot of desperation with it.

What’s scarier is that the world is well on its way there. It is a problem that future generations will have to live with. It is estimated that children born today are 7 times more likely to face extreme weather.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.

GHG include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and fluorinated gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Greenhouse effect traps heat from the sun and causes temperatures to rise.

Greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would have been without its atmosphere. Climate change occurs when the earth’s temperature increases from human activities such as burning fossil fuels.

It is estimated that by the year 2100, a world that is 2 degrees warmer than the present could be upon us. That level of warming would be devastating and the effects would vary greatly around the world.

Global warming is predicted to have severe consequences for human life on Earth, including widespread species extinctions and ecosystem disruption, increasing extreme weather events leading to humanitarian disasters, and massive economic costs as countries adapt to climate change impacts.

The effects of global warming include sea level rise, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, and floods, melting glaciers and permafrost, species extinctions due to shifting temperature regimes, desertification in dry areas.

Consequences of 2°C of global warming

If the world warms by 2°C we will face severe oceans rise, overtaking heavily populated areas. We will see the possible drying up of some of the world’s most important rivers which will endanger the survival of millions of people.

2°C of warming is disastrous and will give rise to heatwaves, droughts, extreme precipitation and wildfire. Even wealthy cities in rich countries wouldn’t be immune to the consequences. In many ways, cities magnify and intensify climate change.

According to United Nations, global energy consumption in cities accounts for 78% and produces more than 60 % of greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention that cities are subject to heat island effects, produce a lot of waste, consume lot of resources, and are hotter than the places around them.

A rise of 2°C would bake cities under more extreme heatwaves and frequent storms will turn parts of it desolated. In addition to the increased risks of climate change, rising sea level is another major concern. Cities tend to be more vulnerable to flooding and rising sea level.

The most extreme effects of global warming are expected in coastal cities. The warming of the atmosphere has already caused the sea levels to rise. In addition, the melting ice sheets threaten the survival of people and their ecosystems in many regions.

The problem is that nearly 634 million people which represent 10% of the world’s population live near a coastline. For these coastal inhabitants, a 2°C warmer world would spell disaster. Moreover, rising sea levels threaten low-lying areas, island nations, coastal regions and may even cause erosion.

It is estimated that by 2100, global sea levels could climb by over 30 centimeters. And the consequence is that millions will have to be displaced. Oceans will become warmer and more acidic and some areas will be flooded.

If temperatures continue to increase, the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people will be at risk. And what’s worst is that cities have dense populations which means that a disaster would affect a lot of people.

More than 56% of the world’s population already lives in urban areas and more than one billion live in slums. And these numbers keep increasing. For them, a 2°C rise could be deadly. It is estimated that the climate crisis could displace more than 1.2 billion people by 2050.

As temperatures rise, regions will become increasingly vulnerable to extreme heat waves and damaging downpours. In the last 20 years, the average daytime temperature has crept up. With global warming, heat during the day will be unbearable and won’t even cool down at night. Some part of the world is already feeling the heat getting intense.

India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are already getting the taste of climate change with extreme heat waves. It is expected to get even worse. Some days approaching 40°C are now being reported. And the so-called wet-bulb temperatures are on the rise.

A wet-bulb temperature is a measure of heat and humidity. Humans cool themselves by sweating but in conditions where the relative humidity is near 100%, sweat doesn’t evaporate well. Consequently, people can’t cool down even if given unlimited shade and water.

At a high wet-bulb temperature, the body can’t lose heat and as it gets hotter and hotter inside, people die. The human limit for wet-bulb temperatures is 35°C and it is estimated that places like Dhaka and Delhi have a high chance of reaching dangerous wet-bulb temperatures if global warming reaches 2°C.

You can’t adapt to such heat. The temperature will be so high that you can’t work or do hard manual labor outside. And most of the people in these countries depend on manual labor for a living. It is estimated that extreme heat kills around five million people per year.

Jacobabad in Pakistan and Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, have already recorded deadly wet-bulb temperatures also. The Persian Gulf as well as parts of Mexico and the south-eastern United States could be well on the way to reaching wet-bulb temperature by the end of the century.

Extreme heat events will become more frequent and more severe in the coming decades. At 1.5 degrees, 14% of the global population would be exposed to an extreme heat event every five years. Meanwhile, Europe would face a 47% increase in annual extreme heat. Similarly, 59% of European cities would face extreme heat every year.

That doesn’t mean other areas won’t be affected. Some rural parts of the world are suffering disproportionately. In the countryside, climate change is making dry seasons longer and more severe. In a 2°C warmer world, annual rainfall in these regions could drop by up to 14%.

Less rainfall means over a quarter of the world’s population could endure extreme droughts for at least a month of the year. Drought is threatening the livelihood of people, making essential resources becoming scarcer.

The water crisis has a major impact with more than 3 billion people facing shortages and nearly 2 billion people lacking access to safely managed water. Approximately 3.5 million people die each year due to inadequate access to this precious resource.

Farmers are also highly vulnerable to global warming. There are over 600 million smallholder farms around the world with two hectares of land producing around a third of the global food supply. With rising global temperatures, the length of droughts would double.

Drought will affect up to one-third of the land surface by 2100, affecting the lives of nearly 700 million people. The effects of 2 degrees of global warming on food security are particularly significant. Global maize crop yields are predicted to be fewer than those of 1.5 degrees warming.

The warming of the oceans will cause a variety of other effects on food production. A dry and hot climate will affect crops, which means a significant shortage of food worldwide. To make matters worst, the current population trajectory means that food production must increase by 60-70% to be able to feed the world by 2050.

And if the world is 2 degrees warmer, freshwater levels will be reduced to two-thirds of their current levels, impacting irrigation. Drought is already a global health concern, the World Health Organisation warns that droughts may cause the displacement of 700 million people by 2030.

Migration patterns could also change and hundreds of millions of people could be displaced by disasters made worse by climate change. And when people move because of the effects of climate change they may well go to cities because these places attract people from the countryside.

As migration around the world increases there could be more competition for scarce resources like water. The prospect of a water conflict is the sort of thing that no one wants to find out. In the Arctic, warming is predicted to cause the melting of permafrost, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The effects of a warming world on the Arctic will be profound, including the loss of animals and the disappearance of habitat. Up to half of all species on Earth will become extinct by 2050. Rising temperatures and habitat destruction are also killing species.

At 2 degrees of warming, the loss of habitats for all species will double or even triple. And 3-degree warming would wipe out all remaining wildlife on the planet. In addition to the destruction of natural ecosystems, global warming will also lead to increased risks of vector-borne diseases.

With a warming of 2 degrees, the risk of these diseases will increase dramatically. A 2-degree increase in the world’s temperature could wipe out corals reef. In Australia, high temperatures have already caused massive bleaching events that have killed hard corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

High temperatures have also exacerbated fires, droughts, and floods in recent years. If the earth gets 2 degrees warmer, we will see extreme temperatures and a massive increase in wildfires. Australia is already experiencing more devastating fire days than any other country in the world.

Australia’s coastline will continue to warm, with the average number of days 35 degrees or higher increased by about eight percent. By 2100, coastal flooding would increase across Australia.

The impact of this would be most severe along Australia’s densely populated east and southeast coasts. Property owners in flood plains would experience a 33% increase in tropical cyclones. The threat of such a catastrophic event will affect everyone.

If we don’t act now, we’ll be faced with catastrophic weather and climate events. The world needs to reduce the effects of global warming before the end of the century, or these events will cause massive damage.

The effects on the world if the temperature gets 2 degrees warmer are vast and profound. Unless we begin to slow global warming in a few decades we could be fighting for life in the future.