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Emerging threatsPace of Earth’s warming “unprecedented in 1,000 years”: NASA

Published 30 August 2016

The warming of the planet is proceeding at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, making it “very unlikely” to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the goal agreed by nations at the Paris climate summit last December. Recent research found that continuing current levels of carbon dioxide emissions for just five more years will eliminate any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.

The warming of the planet is proceeding at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, making it “very unlikely” to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the goal agreed by nations at the Paris climate summit last December.

NASA’s top climate scientist says that the record temperatures are pushing the world into dire circumstances.

“In the last thirty years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the Guardian. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”

“Maintaining temperatures below the 1.5C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or co-ordinated geo-engineering. That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2C.”

IBT reports that Schmidt repeated his previous prediction that there is a 99 percent chance that 2016 will be the warmest year on record, with around 20 percent of the heat attributed to a strong El Niño climatic event. Last year is currently the warmest year on record, itself beating a landmark set in 2014.

“It’s the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there’s no evidence it’s going away and lots of reasons to think it’s here to stay,” Schmidt said. “There’s no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years.”

The Guardian notes that Schmidt is the highest-profile scientist to effectively write-off the 1.5C target, which was adopted at December’s UN summit. Recent research found that continuing current levels of carbon dioxide emissions for just five more years will eliminate any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.