A New Report Says Existing Emissions Will Warm The Planet More Than Expected, But There’s Still Time To Act

Research shows that atmospheric warming from past emissions will increase temperatures far above targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, but some parts of the world are warming more slowly.

By Alexandra HartJanuary 18, 2021 3:35 pm

President-elect Joe has said one of his administration’s first orders of business will be rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, the international treaty aimed at limiting global warming. One of the goals of that agreement is to keep global temperatures optimally from rising more than one-and-a-half degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels. New research, however, indicates we’re on track to pass that mark, maybe two-and-a-half more degrees Celsius, based on emissions that are already in the atmosphere.

“The reason that there’s so much warming already committed is that there are many places on the planet that haven’t warmed up yet because it’s just very slow to warm up,” said Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.

“In particular, large bodies of water, like if you’ve ever waited for a hot tub to warm up,” Dessler said. “So places like the Southern Ocean haven’t warmed up yet. When those do, that’s going to really amplify the warming from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere right now.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

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