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By Damian Carrington
The planet would plunge into scorching heat 10 ° C warmer than today if fossil fuels were burned, according to a new study, leaving some regions uninhabitable and causing profound damage to human health, food supplies and the economy world.
The Arctic, which is already warming fast today, would warm even more - 20 ° C by 2300 - the new research threw in an extreme scenario.
"I think it is very important to know what would happen if measures are not taken to mitigate climate change," said Katarzyna Tokarska, at the University of Victoria in Canada, who led the new research. "Even though we have the Paris climate change agreement, so far there has been no action. [This investigation] is a warning message."
The carbon already emitted from the burning of fossil fuels has led to significant global warming, with 2016 almost certainly being the hottest year ever recorded, greater than 2015 and which in turn surpassed a record year as it was 2014. Other recent studies have shown that extreme heat waves could push the climate beyond human resistance in some parts of the world, such as the Gulf, making them uninhabitable.
In Paris in December, the nations of the world agreed to a climate change agreement aimed at limiting the rise in global warming temperatures to less than 2ºC, equivalent to the emission of one trillion tons of carbon. If recent trends in global emissions continue, some 2 trillion tons will be emitted by the end of the century.
The new work, published in Nature Climate Change, considers the impact of the emission of tons of carbon emissions 5TN. This is the lowest-end estimate for the burning of all currently known fossil fuels, but not including future ones found or those allowed by new extraction technologies.
The researchers used a series of sophisticated climate models and found this increase in CO2 would lead to an increase in surface temperatures by an average of 8ºC worldwide by 2300. When the effect of other greenhouse gases is added, the increase amounts to 10C.
The warming predicted by the models was not uniform across the world. In the Arctic, higher levels of CO2 led to 17ºC of warming, with another 3C of other greenhouse gases, throughout the year. These increases are greater than those indicated by earlier, less comprehensive models, which are less accurate in modeling how the oceans take heat. By February, parts of the Arctic had already recorded temperatures 16 ° C above normal.
The warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels would also have a huge impact on rainfall. The new research shows precipitation falling by two-thirds over parts of Central America and North Africa and half over parts of Australia, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and the Amazon.
Thomas Frölicher, at ETH Zürich in Switzerland and who is not involved in the new work, said: "Given that current trends in fossil fuel emissions could lead to temperatures above the Paris 2 ° C targets, Politicians need to have a clear view of what is at stake, both on time scales of decades and centuries, if no meaningful climate policies are put in place. Unregulated exploitation of fossil fuel resources could lead to a significant deeper climate change ".Ecoportal.net