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• Global average temperatures have risen by 3°C |





Global average temperatures have risen by 3°C*

Global warming has begun to race out of control with temperatures fed by increasingly strong feedback mechanisms. Melting permafrost in the Arctic is now releasing vast amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas more than 70 times stronger than CO2.* Plants are decaying faster in the warmer climate, while the oceans are liberating ever greater quantities of dissolved CO2.

The Earth is now the hottest it has been since the mid-Pliocene, over 3 million years ago,* and there are permanent El Niño conditions* – resulting in widespread, extreme weather events in regions around the world. Severe droughts, torrential flooding, hurricanes and other disturbances are now a constant feature on the news. Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa are the places most affected. Developing countries dependent on agriculture and fishing – especially those bordering the Pacific Ocean – are particularly badly hit.

In Pakistan, a calamity of epic scale is unfolding. The nation has been declared a failed state, its government having lost control, with armed gangs seizing what little food and water remains. Tens of millions of refugees are attempting to leave the country as rivers run permanently dry.* India has fared little better. The country’s agriculture is now under severe stress, with monsoons ranging from extremely wet seasons to extremely dry ones. In the more intense wet years, the flooding is catastrophic, submerging vast areas of land.

In America, the east coast is being hit particularly hard now. Chesapeake Bay – the largest estuary in the country – has been devastated by recent flooding disasters, rising sea levels and storm damage. The economies of Maryland and Virginia have suffered greatly.


2050 flooding 2055 2050s sea level climate change global warming
Credit: NASA


Much of the Gulf Coast region has been abandoned, while droughts are worsening in the southwest of the country. More than 15m Americans now qualify as displaced persons.* A surge in migration to Canada is underway – one of the few areas of the world that still offers somewhat favourable environmental conditions.

In Europe, food riots have continued to spread. Temperatures that were previously found only in North Africa and the Middle East have become the norm in central and southern parts of the continent.* Britain now has a Mediterranean climate* and is engaged in a food-sharing process with its neighbour Ireland.* Rising sea levels, erosion and storm surges are wreaking havoc on the coastline.*

Australia is being plagued by extreme heatwaves. The country is experiencing severe and prolonged droughts, together with a huge increase in wildfires and dust storms. The elderly are especially at risk from this hotter and drier weather.*

The Arctic seas – which became ice-free in September months by the 2020s – now have ice-free conditions throughout the year. This has made the region attractive to shipping and exploitation of natural resources, with various new trade routes being opened up. Iceland is benefiting from this, becoming like Singapore in some ways.* Many previously uninhabited islands in the Arctic are now being colonised.


global warming timeline 2050 future temperature scenario trend graph




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1 Climate change odds much worse than thought, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
Accessed 21st May 2012.

2 NSIDC bombshell: Thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s, releasing 100 billion tons of carbon by 2100,
Climate Progress:
Accessed 12th March 2011.

3 Risk of extreme climate change accelerating, West Coast Climate Equity (via Web Archive):
Accessed 9th February 2014.

4 Climate Countdown, Culture Change:
Accessed 12th March 2011.

5 Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, by Mark Lynas
Accessed 12th March 2011.

6 Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, by Gwynne Dyer
Accessed 12th March 2011.

7 3 Degrees Warmer: Heat Wave Fatalities, National Geographic:
Accessed 12th March 2011.

8 Climate may turn UK Mediterranean, BBC:
Accessed 12th March 2011.

9 Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, by Gwynne Dyer
Accessed 12th March 2011.

10Climate change 'will wreak havoc on Britain's coastline by 2050', The Guardian:
Accessed 12th March 2011.

11 Sydney summers by 2060 could be deadly, Reuters:
Accessed 12th March 2011.

12 Climate Change Impacts on National Security, Admiral David Titley:
Accessed 12th March 2011.


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