Even if the world stopped today, the climate crisis would still be there. More and more studies have shown that healing environmental wounds will take time. An analysis published recently in the journal ‘Nature’ suggests that it will take decades of emission reductions before appreciating how the global rise in temperatures. If we start now, the results will begin to be seen by 2040. Other study, published this same Thursday in ‘Science’, estimates that even if forceful measures were applied to end plastic waste, by 2040 there would be 710 million tons more. The environmental degradation, then, will not be solved from one day to the next.
“These studies reaffirm something that experts have long warned. Policies to curb the climate crisis have no immediate effect. That is why we need to apply sustained measures in the medium and long term. AND do it now“, reflects Olga Alcaraz, coordinator of the working group on Climate Change Governance at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC). The climate, explains the researcher, follows a certain inertia. Like a cup of coffee that you stir with a spoon and that, although at a certain moment you stop stirring, the liquid will continue to rotate for a while before stabilizing.
The covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have caused a 17% decrease in global emissions in just a few months; a hitherto unimaginable figure. But even this unusual fact does not balance the scale. Because with the ‘new normal’ the dynamics go back to being the same. It is estimated that by the end of the year, emissions will have dropped on average between 4 and 7%. This would mean that, for the first time in history, it would enter into the reductions agreed to in the Paris Agreement, which establishes 7% less each year. But what about next year? “There has been no structural change that guarantees that the reduction of emissions is maintained “, explains Alcaraz.
Forecast for 2040
The end of the climate emergency, then, does not seem to be near. For this reason, experts call to “manage expectations” about the future of this environmental crisis. And, although the effects are not instantaneous, they highlight the need to act immediately.
If strong (and continued) policies were implemented right now to mitigate the emission of different gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect, the results would begin to be detected from the year 2040; love the study published in ‘Nature’. If not done, temperatures will continue to rise until reaching the dreaded horizon of an increase of more than two degrees on average, where “a series of cascading disasters” would occur, ranging from the thaw to a dramatic rise in sea level, they predict The experts.
If policies to reduce plastic consumption are applied now, by 2040 the planet will have to deal ‘only’ with 460 million tons of plastic on land and 250 more in the sea. If not, it is estimated that they will be 1.3 billion tons of waste in the middle. The just published ‘Science’ study estimates that each year about 30 million tons of plastics are dumped on land, 11 million more in the seas and 50 million end up in the air after being burned. The vast majority, until 95% are single-use plastics. Hence, the researchers ask that, in addition to public awareness, governments and industry commit to tackle this problem and reduce current production by up to 80%.