World Surges Closer to Key Temperature Limit, UN Says

May 18, 2023

Consequences of Temperature Rise

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shared a new report on Wednesday. It says that by 2027, there's a 66% chance the Earth's average temperature for the year will rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than what it was in the mid-1800s. If we reach this point, scientists warn, it could make the effects of climate change worse.  

The 1.5 degree limit is often talked about when discussing climate change. Earlier this year, UN scientists again said we need to make sure the world's temperature doesn't go up more than 1.5 degrees by 2050. This was also a major part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which 196 countries, including the US, agreed to. 

Climate scientists have reported that temperatures have already gone up by 1.1 degrees Celsius. The UN says that to slow this down, rich countries like the US and China need to have no extra emissions by 2040. That's because they contribute more to cause climate change than anyone else. Countries that are still developing need to cut emissions by 2050.  

The temperature rise isn't expected to last forever. This is because El Nino is predicted to end quickly. It’s a natural warming cycle. But the high temperatures could show us what might happen if we don't slow down climate change caused by humans. Things like droughts, melting glaciers, and new diseases can all happen because of a hotter Earth.  

“WMO is sounding the alarm,” the WMO Secretary-General said in a statement. “We haven’t been able to limit the warming so far, and we are still moving in the wrong, wrong direction.”    

Reflect: Why might it be important for scientists to predict future temperature changes on Earth?

According to the infographic, a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures would result in _______. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. 16% of plants losing half their habitable area
b. 6% of insects losing half their habitable area
c. coral reefs declining by 99%
d. 8% of plants losing half their habitable area
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