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    April 11, 2016 | 10:00 AM

    What’s the Big Deal If The Planet Is a Few Degrees Warmer?

    We’ve all had that moment. It’s the longest part of winter. The skies are dark and cloudy. It’s so cold out even the temperature gauge seems to be frozen in place. Spring seems so far away. And your mind, in a desperate attempt to warm up, turns to thoughts of summer: popsicles, pool parties, and sunny days. What could be better? Maybe winter could just hurry up and be on its way. Maybe if it was just a few degrees warmer, the season would not seem so dreary. So you ask yourself:

    What’s wrong with a few degrees anyways?

    But here’s the truth. As much as the thought of warmer weather appeals to our sense of comfort, even a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius will disrupt our lives and challenge our ability to cope.

    Think of it this way: What’s the difference between 0 and 1 degree Celsius? Well, that’s the difference between ice and water. One degree can have a huge effect on a global scale in the natural world.

    For example, a few degrees of global warming transformed the freezing conditions of the last ice age into our present mild climate. Scientific records over the past million years show that as periodic ice ages ended, global average temperatures rose a total of 4-7 degrees Celsius over the course of about 5,000 years. So what kind of impacts would you expect if global average temperatures were to rise by 2-8 degrees Celsius in just the next century?

    You don’t need to guess – we’re starting to see the impacts today. The world has already warmed about 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880 (that's about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Intense rainstorms, severe droughts, and heat waves are becoming more frequent. Rising seas are damaging homes near the water. Some populations of animals are starting to die out. And that’s just 0.8 degrees!

    Now consider what could happen if we do nothing to limit the carbon pollution that’s causing global warming and global temperatures keep going up and up.

    In other words, the more we pollute, the worse things will get. 

    Get Answers To The Most Common Questions About Climate Change

    You know climate change is the challenge of our generation. But still, you hear the misinformed questions all the time. If you’re wondering how to respond the next time your great-aunt mistakenly asks if climate change exists or when your brother-in-law claims it’s too late to do anything, download our free e-book, The 12 Things Every Climate Activist Hears and How to Respond now and you’ll be ready to give quick, science-based answers to these questions and more.

     

     

    The Climate Reality Project