Major Climate Report Warns of Irreversible Damage from 2°C Warming
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Pexels
Patna: A groundbreaking State of the Cryosphere Report released by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) on Thursday reveals alarming consequences of 2°C global warming, emphasising irreversible damage to Earth's ice.
The report, reviewed and supported by over 60 leading cryosphere scientists, paints a grim picture, warning that a mere 2°C rise will lead to catastrophic loss of Earth's ice sheets, mountain glaciers and snow, sea ice, permafrost, and polar oceans. This information, crucially timed before the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023, calls for urgent global action.
Pam Pearson, Director of ICCI, stressed the urgency: "Today’s landmark report shows that we need to take 2°C off the table." In a press statement, she urged global leaders to recognise that 2°C is too high for Earth’s cryosphere, referring to the ongoing climate disasters and ice loss in 2023.
The report underscores severe and irreversible consequences for millions of people, societies, and nature. It calls for the phase-out of fossil fuels and financial mechanisms to support climate action. The findings reveal that all of Earth's frozen parts will suffer irreversible damage at 2°C global warming, impacting societies and ecosystems profoundly.
Notable findings include the triggering of long-term, inexorable sea-level rise in Greenland, West Antarctica, and vulnerable portions of East Antarctica. Glaciers in major river basins worldwide will experience extensive, irreversible ice loss, heightening risks of catastrophic events like landslides and glacial lake outburst floods.
Extensive sea ice loss at both poles is predicted, with severe feedback to global weather and climate. The Arctic Ocean is projected to be sea ice-free in summer every year at 2°C, lasting for several months.
The report also highlights the extensive thawing of permafrost, leading to significant greenhouse gas emissions even after human emissions reach zero. Annual total permafrost emissions at 2°C would match the size of the entire European Union’s emissions from 2019.
Dr Pema Gyamtsho, Director General of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), warned that the Hindu Kush Himalaya is at the epicentre of the global cryosphere crisis, affecting mountain communities' water, food, and energy security. She said, “The Hindu Kush Himalaya is at the epicentre of the global cryosphere crisis with our glaciers, snow, and permafrost already undergoing unprecedented and irreversible changes. These changes are upending the lives of mountain communities by increasing uncertainty in the timing, availability, and seasonal distribution of mountain water resources, threatening water, food, and energy security. The State of the Cryosphere Report is a warning to global leaders that inaction at COP28 will be disastrous.”
Professor Julie Brigham-Grette from the University of Massachusetts Amherst called on world leaders to correct course at COP28 in December 2023, stating that failure to act would burden humanity for centuries by displacing millions, disrupting freshwater resources, and offsetting permafrost emissions for future generations. She said in the report, “Our message is that this insanity cannot and must not continue. COP28 and December 2023 must be when we correct the course. Otherwise, world leaders are de facto deciding to burden humanity for centuries to millennia by displacing hundreds of millions of people from flooding coastal settlements, depriving societies of life-giving freshwater resources, disrupting delicately-balanced polar ocean ecosystems, and forcing future generations to offset long-term permafrost emissions.”
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