What Will Happen When Earth Gets Hotter: Every Degree

by Holly about a year ago in habitat

An overview of the events that will happen each time the Earth's temperature increases

What Will Happen When Earth Gets Hotter: Every Degree

A novel (one that I think everyone should read) called The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells, serves as a guide to understand the details of climate change. An issue that is spoken about often ,but rarely actively addressed.

I found, through the book, that there is so much information that is unknown by most people. For instance, the actual situation of the globe being warmed.

The reality is: Climate change is fast, much faster than it seems. So fast that it feels impossible to imagine

"This is part of what makes climate change what the theorist Timothy Morton calls a 'hyperobject'—a conceptual fact so large and complex that, like the internet, it can never be properly comprehended."

Found from studies of global warming, even just after the year 2100, humans will enter the century of hell.

Two Degrees

When the Earth's temperature increases by two degrees, we can expect to face some very significant and irreversible changes to the environment.

At this stage, these events will no longer be perceived as "natural disasters," it will just be some common bad weather.

  • The ice sheets will begin their collapse
  • 400 million more people will suffer from water scarcity
  • Major cities in the equatorial band of the planet will become unlivable
  • The northern latitudes heat waves will kill thousands each summer
  • There will be 32 times as many extreme heat waves in India that will last five times as long—exposing 93 times more people

As described by the author of The Uninhabitable Earth, this combination of global issues is considered the best case scenario.

"Even if we pull the planet up short by two degrees by 2100, we will be left with an atmosphere that contains 500 parts per million of carbon - perhaps more."

The last time this was the case, 16 million years ago, the planet was around five to eight degrees warmer. Warm enough to draw a new American coastline as far west as I-95.

Three Degrees

At the point where the temperature has increased by three degrees, we can expect to experience even worse problems from our climate. This is when the reality of our current situation will settle in.

  • Southern Europe will experience permanent drought
  • The average drought in central America will last 19 months longer
  • The average drought in the Caribbean will last 20 months longer
  • And in Northern Africa, 60 months longer (five years)
  • The areas burned each year by wildfires would double in the Mediterranean
  • And they will sextuple in the USA

The ending of our overall habitable planet will not be sudden or far along its timeline—well past the end of the current living generations. It will be slow and painful. That is the reality whether people acknowledge the issue or not.

Four Degrees

Due to a four degree increase, the Earth will become nearly impossible to survive on, much less live and thrive on. The change effects will cause even more irreversible and fatal damage to everything we currently know and take for granted.

  • There will be a green Sahara
  • The planet's tropical forests will transform into fire dominated savannas
  • There will be eight million more cases of Dengue Fever each year in Latin America alone
  • Close to annual global food crises
  • There will be at least nine percent more heat-related deaths
  • Damages from river flooding will grow 30-fold in Bangladesh
  • 20-fold in India
  • And as much as 60-fold in the UK
  • In certain places, six climate driven natural disasters could strike simultaneously
  • Globally, damages could pass $600 trillion (more than twice the wealth as exists in the world today)
  • Conflict and warfare could double

This all poses severe risks to the habitability of the entire planet and inflict permanent damage to our already deteriorating system.

This stage has earned the title "Hothouse Earth"

Reflecting On Everything

Because these numbers are so small, we tend to trivialize the differences between them. The difference between each single degree, unfortunately, is detrimental on a global scale.

A part in the book The Uninhabitable Earth really stuck with me as it made a lot of sense in the context of the recent environmental crisis.

"The climate system that raised us, and raised everything we know now as a human culture and civilization, is now, like a parent, dead."—David Wallace-Wells

We are essentially on our own in the downward spiral of the earth because of the choices we have made in just the last few centuries. We are all walking around with a carbon footprint that, if not acknowledged, will end all that we know, sooner rather than later.

Read next: Understanding the Collective Intelligence of Pro-opinion

See all posts by Holly