Climate change is “a current and existential national security risk”, according to a Senate report released on May 17. It says an existential risk is “one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development”. These are strong words.
Global warming of 1.5°C is imminent, likely in just a decade from now. David Spratt reviews several recent studies that point to this alarming conclusion.
So how does hitting warming of 1.5°C one decade from now square with the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”?
In two words, it doesn’t.
Last year was by far the hottest year in the observation record, with the global average surface temperature 1.24° Celcuis warmer than the late nineteenth century, according to NASA data. This broke the record set the previous year of 1.12°C, which in turn broke the previous mark set in 2014 of 1.01°C.
Although the El Nino conditions of 2015–16 had some influence — perhaps 0.2°C — it is clear that the warming trend is 1°C or more.