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Irreversible changes, warmer temperatures sooner: 5 alarming findings from the UN climate change report

Irreversible changes, warmer temperatures sooner: 5 alarming findings from the UN climate change report

A grim global report on climate change released Monday paints a dire picture for the future of Earth.

Climate change has led to irreversible shifts for the next hundreds to thousands of years, according to the report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The effects of more extreme weather are felt across the globe, the report said, and average global temperature increases that could have devastating effects may come sooner than expected.

Dubbed a "code red for humanity" by the United Nations, the report says unequivocally humans have caused climate change, driven up greenhouse gas emissions and led to warmer weather.

Here are five of the most alarming findings in the climate report:

We may reach 1.5°C of warming much sooner than previously expected

"One of the most striking takeaways is that we may reach 1.5°C of warming a decade earlier than the IPCC had previously found".

Warming of 1.5 degrees Centigrade would increase heat waves, lengthen warm seasons and shorten cold seasons. If temperatures were 2 degrees warmer, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health.

In five scenarios of expected levels of greenhouse gas emissions laid out in the report, global warming of at least 1.5 degrees is the best estimate for the increase in temperature in the near term, from 2021 to 2040. Even under the lowest emissions scenarios, the report says a 1.5-degree warming in the next 20 years is "more likely than not" before bouncing back. Previous predictions did not expect this level of warming this soon.

The five scenarios varied more in how much global temperatures will increase in the coming century, but even under a very low greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the range of temperature increase by 2100 is very likely to be 1 to 1.8 degrees Centigrade.
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