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West Suffolk Liberal Democrats

How do you make sense of global warming?

February 5, 2019 4:45 PM
By Chris Lale

Politicians and pressure groups always seem to talk in terms of targets. But what are the different targets and what do they mean. Here is an attempt to explain.


This is where we are now. The world is already 1 degree C warmer than pre-industrial levels. Last year saw hurricanes, droughts, floods and fires. We are now heading towards 1.5 degree C.

At 1.5C we can expect more sea level rise, declining fisheries and melting ice at the North Pole.


This is the time we have left to act. We can still stop global warming going beyond 1.5 degrees C in 12 years.

To do this, we need to change the way we use the land and put back our trees and forests. We need to cut carbon pollution by 45% within 12 years. Carbon pollution needs to be zero by 2050.


If we can't keep global warming below 1.5C within 12 years people will suffer. Here and across the world there will be much greater lack of water, scarcer food, more deaths, more fires, poorer crops, declining beneficial insects and extinction of wildlife.


We are heading this way and beyond. 2C would take us dangerously out of the range in which human civilisation developed. Even 1.5C will do this, but it is already to late to meet any lower target. At least 1.5C would give young people a fighting chance of getting back to safe territory. That way we should at least be able to keep our shorelines and coastal cities.