The world is warming up – why 1.5°C matters

You may have noticed in news reports on global warming that if the earth warms by over 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we will step onto dangerous ground. Of course, many people may look at this and ask what is the big deal? But, why is such a small number so significant in our fight against global warming? After all, it heats up way above 1.5°C during the summer months everywhere. 

If we look at the impact of this 1.5°C increase on humans, it’s not that significant. However, as an average temperature, it is the point at which many scientific experts predict that runaway changes will start to occur, and the climate impacts we already see will go from bad to worse. This could trigger irreversible changes and affect life as we know it. So, to stop these consequences, we need to do everything we can to keep global warming temperatures from rising above 1.5°C.

A Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clarifies that unless drastic action is taken to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, then the average temperature across the globe will increase by 1.5-2°C this century. Once we reach 1.5°C, the global warming crisis is likely to get worse very quickly due to complex feedback loops.

Global leaders who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 agreed to do their utmost to hold global warming to well below 2°C, and preferably limit it to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The first review of this agreement is due at COP26, happening in Glasgow, which makes it an important issue right now. If minimal changes occur at the current rate, we could see global warming reach 1.5°C by the early 2030s. However, if we can rapidly cut carbon emissions to net-zero, it could delay global warming by decades. 

Global warming is an average temperature

The 1.5°C increase in temperature relates to the global average over a set period. In some parts of the world, the average will significantly surpass this, but the critical number is the global average, not the regional temperatures. 

The measure used to gauge this average is set from a baseline average temperature in the mid-to-late 1800s. Then, when the Industrial Revolution swung into high gear, people began burning fossil fuels unprecedentedly, kick-starting climate change.

The climate crisis is already here

The one takeaway from all of this is that the climate crisis doesn’t start when we reach 1.5°C. It’s already here and we are trying to lessen its impact by getting global warming under control. Crops are already unable to thrive in some areas and glaciers are melting. Forests are becoming net carbon emitters with the burning of logs dispelling harmful CO2 into the air. 

The IPCC predict if we reach a temperature between 1.5-2°C warmer as an average, we could see the following occur:

  • 1.7 billion more people will experience severe heat waves at least once every five years.

  • Seas rising – on average – another 10cm (almost 4in).

  • Up to several hundred million more people become exposed to climate-related risks and poverty.

  • The coral reefs that support marine environments around the world could decline as much as 99%.

  • Global fishery catches could decline by another 1.5 million tonnes.

  • In forests like the Amazon, the effects on biodiversity could see some species become extinct.

Now is a time to take notice and do what we can to reduce the impact of climate change in our everyday lives.

Using timber from certified sustainable forests is one easy way you can help in mitigating the effects of climate change. That’s because timber is effectively a carbon sink – it stores the CO2 that was in the atmosphere and converted into timber by trees as they grow.

Ecochoice supplies FSC® certified timber for civil and marine projects, as well as loads of decking and cladding projects all over the UK. Please contact us for a free quote.



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