Climate change is as serious a threat as nuclear war, but a safer climate future “need not be beyond reach,” according to a report commissioned by the United Kingdom government and led by ex-UK chief scientist Sir David King.
“The report is not the first to put climate chaos and nuclear devastation in the same category of risk, but its sponsorship by one of the world’s nuclear powers is eloquent,” EcoWatch comments. “It says the most important political decision is how much effort to exert on countering climate change, taking into account what we are doing to the climate, how it may respond, what that could do to us, and what we might then do to each other.”
The study team brought together scientists from the UK, the United States, India, and China.
The report assumes a continuing increase in greenhouse gas emissions for “another few decades,” EcoWatch says, for two reasons: governments are not maximizing the use of available technologies, and clean technology is not advancing rapidly enough to support government policies to reduce GHGs.
“An honest assessment of risk is no reason for fatalism,” the authors stress. “Just as small changes in climate can have very large effects, the same can be true for changes in government policy, technological capability, and financial regulation…the goal of preserving a safe climate for the future need not be beyond our reach.”
They warn, though, that “uncertainty is not our friend. There is much more scope to be unlucky than there is to be lucky.” Without policy changes, the study projects average global temperature increases of 3º to 7ºC by 2100, along with accelerating sea level rise.
That picture adds up to unprecedented levels of migration, and “the capacity of the international community for humanitarian assistance, already at full stretch, could easily be overwhelmed,” the report states.