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Lessons from a hotter planet: Things escalate quickly

Posted On: 13 Jul 2020   |   Posted By: Grist

Lessons from a hotter planet: Things escalate quickly

The story of our warming planet can be told by degrees. The global thermostat has gone up 1 degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, and rivers of meltwater are now coursing off Greenland's glaciers. Two degrees could mean crop failures and 500,000 deaths from malnutrition a year. Three degrees would be a hotter world than our species has ever experienced: The last time the temperatures rose that high was 2 million years before the evolution of homo sapiens.
Creep up another 2 degrees, and it could lead to the greatest mass extinction in earth's history. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, things escalate quickly .
If you are like most people, you have a sense that climate change is bad, but would be hard-pressed to explain the exact consequences of each additional degree of heat. A few degrees of warming doesn't sound that bad, maybe no more dangerous than nudging up your thermostat. So at what point do sweaty summers and mild winters turn into extinction and the collapse of civilization?
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