So why is climate change such a problem now?
An increase in average temperatures across the whole world of 1.5 degrees C might not sound like that much. But it's enough to:-
- make extreme weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods and heat waves more likely
- melt the ice at the Arctic and Antarctic – raising sea levels and causing coastal towns, and even low-lying islands and countries to disappear under the sea, or be at greatly increased risk of flooding as a result of storm surges
- cause more wild fires, which in turn destroy the forests we need to store carbon and make our climate stable - you can see this happening right now in California, Africa, the Amazon, the Artic, Australia- there is a long list.
- cause a feedback loop, where increasing temperatures cause more ice to melt and increase the risk of wild fires. Where permafrost is melting in the Arctic tundra, methane gas that has been locked away in the ice for thousands of years is now bubbling to the surface. Remember that for its first 20 years in the atmosphere, methane is over 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This in turn causes more warming, more ice to melt and more wild fires.
- cause more deaths from extreme weather, more crop failures, increase the danger of food and water shortages. As parts of the world become too hot and dry to grow crops, or even access drinking water, there will be more migration as people lose their homes. This could cause more conflict and wars as liveable land becomes more scarce and people are forced to fight for it.