Climate change is already impacting ecosystems, economies, and the communities in which we live.
We can still prevent the most negative impacts — but we must change course.
ClimateWorks subscribes to the international goal of holding the increase in global average temperature this century to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. While considered a “safe” range, we can expect significant disruptions, such as melting of ice sheets, rising sea levels, more acidic oceans, and more frequent extreme weather events. These shocks affect water supply and food production, unsettle communities, and harm economic activity. The poorest communities are often the most vulnerable. The following table illustrates some of the impacts of rising global average temperatures.
A stable climate sustains healthy ecosystems, economies, and societies.
The stability of the climate we all depend on is at risk. Human activities such as energy generation and transportation (think smokestacks and tailpipes) emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are heating the planet. The graph below shows global annual average temperatures since 1880, and carbon dioxide concentration — largely the result of human activity — during the same period.
The planet’s climate has constantly been changing over geological time. The global average temperature today is about 15C, though geological evidence suggests it has been much higher and lower in the past.
However, the current period of warming is occurring more rapidly than many past events. Scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation, or variability, is being overtaken by a rapid human-induced warming that has serious implications for the stability of the planet’s climate.