Reducing greenhouse gas emission even to zero won't stop global warming: Study

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Nov 13, 2020, 06:40 PM IST

(Representative Image) Photograph:(AFP)

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So what's the way to stop global warming?

Scientists have been warning for years that climate change is a very real threat that mankind faces. But many, including prominent world leaders have ignored this. This may have resulted in inadequate response to the problem and we may be at a point of no return. These fears may be true according to researchers who say that global warming will continue even if greenhouse gas emissions responsible for it are reduced to zero.

"According to our models, humanity is beyond the point-of-no-return when it comes to halting the melting of permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool," lead author Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, told AFP.

The researchers have published their finding in the journal Scientific Reports.

So what's the way to stop global warming?

According to the researchers, the only way to do it is to extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and store them so that they do not go back into it.

Using a stripped-down climate model, Randers and colleague Ulrich Goluke projected changes out to the year 2500 under two scenarios: the instant cessation of emissions, and the gradual reduction of planet warming gases to zero by 2100.

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In an imaginary world where carbon pollution stops with a flip of the switch, the planet warms over the next 50 years to about 2.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels -- roughly half-a-degree above the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement -- and cools slightly after that.

Earth's surface today is 1.2C hotter than it was in the mid-19th century, when temperatures began to rise.

The findings of the researcher if absolutely accurate, does not sound well for the future of humanity as it means that we do not have any way to stop a process that may lead to melting of polar ice-caps and increasing sea levels that may see many megacities around the world going underwater.

But many scientists are contesting the claims made in the study and also the method by which the study was conducted.

Mark Maslin, a professor of climatology at University College London, also pointed to shortcomings in the model, known as ESCIMO, describing the study as a "thought experiment."

"What the study does draw attention to is that reducing global carbon emissions to zero by 2050" -- a goal championed by the UN and embraced by a growing number of countries -- "is just the start of our actions to deal with climate change."

(With AFP inputs)