Climate Change
October 5, 2019
Will the world act before catastrophic warming occurs?

International reports on the effects of climate change warn that accelerated temperature increases are rapidly leading to an erosion of ecosystems, human health and economies beyond what scientists had predicted before the 2015 Paris accord to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are heating the planet. Environmental groups, state governments, citizens and young people are filing lawsuits and staging protests to urge governments to move more quickly to address global warming. In the United States, activists, state officials and some companies facing investor pressure are pushing President Trump to stop weakening federal regulations aimed at curbing climate change. Democrats seeking to unseat Trump in 2020 are campaigning on plans to address the issue, while several states are forging ahead with efforts to develop their own policies to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, the source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

Firefighters near Novo Progresso in northern Brazil fight a forest fire on Sept. 3. Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, called the world’s “lungs” because it converts 2 billion tons of atmospheric carbon into oxygen every year, saw areas equivalent to three football fields burn up every minute this summer, exacerbating climate change. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Gustavo Basso) Firefighters near Novo Progresso in northern Brazil fight a forest fire on Sept. 3. Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, called the world’s “lungs” because it converts 2 billion tons of atmospheric carbon into oxygen every year, saw areas equivalent to three football fields burn up every minute this summer, exacerbating climate change. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Gustavo Basso)

Scientists warn that climate change appears to be occurring more quickly than researchers predicted before the 2015 Paris accord, and slowing the course will require rapid, uNPRecedented changes to the world economy.

Heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions are increasing so quickly that by 2040 the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, according to scientists on a United Nations panel. By that time, warming ocean temperatures could cause another 70 to 90 percent of the world’s coral reefs, which support about a quarter of all marine species and protect coastlines, to die off, the scientists said.

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