The Earth hasn’t been that hot in over 100 thousand years . At that time humans had no farming, and the animals and plants inhabiting Earth were quite different [2,3]. But what would +1.5°C mean in modern times?
So far, Earth has warmed by about 1°C above pre-Industrial levels , and this is already causing humans to die  and species to go extinct . If Earth warms another 0.5°C, we expect things to get much worse: more extreme heatwaves, droughts, floods, and forest fires [11,12]; more spread of pests and disease [13,14]; more loss of land to rising sea levels ; and maybe food shortages .
Some wildlife is particularly vulnerable to warming, and less able to adapt than humans: it’s predicted that with +1.5°C, only 10% of coral reefs may survive . Losing them would be a tragedy, since they provide food or shelter for over 25% of fish species in the ocean , and benefit humans through fishing, tourism, and flood protection .
Remember: +1.5°C refers to the global average increase in temperature, but warming will be different across regions . With the same change in global temperature, some areas are predicted to be 4.5°C warmer !
It is almost certain that we will reach 1.5°C of warming . If we don’t massively change the way we live, this may happen as early as 2040 . In theory, it is possible to stay below 1.5°C if we stopped emitting CO2 today, or if we quickly invent clever technology that cools the planet, but unfortunately, neither of these are likely to happen soon enough [6,7].
The effects of 1.5°C sound horrible already, but scientists think that the effects of 2°C would be much worse . Yet, even these seem almost cute compared to 4° and even higher temperatures – see our next posts!
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