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Tech & Science Painfully slow hurricanes, deadly heat, and cities without water: What the climate crisis will look like in the next 10 years, according to experts

01:00  19 november  2019
01:00  19 november  2019 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

A 'green interest rate?' Fed digs into climate change economics

  A 'green interest rate?' Fed digs into climate change economics A 'green interest rate?' Fed digs into climate change economicsSAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - In their deliberations on monetary policy, Federal Reserve policymakers need to consider many factors, but up to now, climate change has not been one of them.

and cities without water : What the climate crisis will look like in the next 10 years , according to experts . Addressing this threat in the next 10 years is critical: Scientists say the world must slash its Fossil fuels like coal contain compounds like carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat from

"We would like them to get used to being in the streets, to being at a protest on a regular basis. And eventually, if not right away, engaging in civil disobedience SEE ALSO: Painfully slow hurricanes , deadly heat , and cities without water : What the climate crisis will look like in the next 10 years

a person standing in front of water: A woman walks in a flooded street during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, November 11, 2012. The water level in the canal city rose to 149 cm (59 inches) above normal. A woman walks in a flooded street during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, November 11, 2012. The water level in the canal city rose to 149 cm (59 inches) above normal.
  • In the last few years, we've seen record-breaking temperatures, intense hurricanes and wildfires, and unprecedented ice melt.
  • All of these are predicted consequences of climate change and are expected to get worse in the coming years.
  • Addressing this threat in the next 10 years is critical: Scientists say the world must slash its carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avoid catastrophic warming.
  • Here's what we can expect in the next decade.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more.

We only have a decade to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong

  How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong For decades, most scientists saw climate change as a distant prospect. We now know that thinking was wrong. This summer, for instance, a heat wave in Europe penetrated the Arctic, pushing temperatures into the 80s across much of the Far North and, according to the Belgian climate scientist Xavier Fettweis, melting some 40 billion tons of Greenland’s ice sheet.

Painfully slow hurricanes , deadly heat , and cities without water : What the climate crisis will look like in the next 10 years , according to experts . A few climate models are now predicting an unprecedented and alarming spike in temperatures — perhaps as much as 5 degrees Celsius.

Hurricanes are fueled by heat energy from warm ocean waters . Between 1944 and 2017, 66 storms have stalled in the north Atlantic Basin, and nearly two-thirds of those occurred within the final 25 years of the study, suggesting a trend towards slower -moving storms, according to a 2019 study from

That's the warning the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out last year. But so far, nations are not slashing emissions enough to keep Earth's temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - the threshold established in the Paris climate agreement.

"What we know is that unabated climate change will really transform our world into something that is unrecognizable," Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute's climate program, told Business Insider.

That transformation has already begun. The last few years saw record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic and bizarre storms, and unprecedented ice melt. That's all likely to get worse by 2030.

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  Hurricanes on the scale of Katrina and Harvey are now 3 times more likely than a century ago: 'We cannot hope to combat storms' Hurricanes are the costliest natural disasters in the US. New research shows that extremely destructive hurricanes have become much more common over the last century. Recent storms serve as examples of this trend. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey decimated parts of Texas, causing $US125 billion in damages. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused $US161 billion in economic losses. As our planet warms, hurricanes are expected to continue getting stronger, slower, and wetter. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Hurricanes are the costliest natural disasters in the United States.

Climate change is propelling enormous human migrations, transforming global agriculture and remaking the world order — and no country stands to It was only November, but the chill already cut to the bone in the small village of Dimitrovo, which sits just 35 miles north of the Chinese border in a

In the 10 years since "An Inconvenient Truth" was released, climate researchers have made great Ten years ago, scientists knew from past changes in Earth’s climate that temperature shifts can The ongoing conflict sparked an international crisis and has left hundreds of thousands of people dead

Here's what we can expect in the next 10 years.

Scientists attribute the increasing frequency of record-breaking temperatures, unprecedented ice melt, and extreme weather shifts to greenhouse-gas emissions.

Fossil fuels like coal contain compounds like carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat from the sun. Extracting and burning these fuels for energy releases those gases into the atmosphere, where they accumulate and heat up the Earth over time.

"As long as we burn fossil fuels and load the atmosphere with carbon pollution, it all gets worse," climate scientist Michael Mann told Business Insider in an email.

Last year, the IPCC warned that we only have until 2030 to act in order to avoid the worst consequences of severe climate change.

a person in a suit and tie: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Hoesung Lee, centre, speaks during a press conference in Incheon, South Korea, October 8, 2018. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Hoesung Lee, centre, speaks during a press conference in Incheon, South Korea, October 8, 2018.

According to the IPCC, the world's carbon emissions have to fall by 45% by 2030 to keep the world's average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Venice is underwater — and a preview of what climate change will bring to coastal cities

  Venice is underwater — and a preview of what climate change will bring to coastal cities Climate scientists have said Venice is a harbinger of problems facing coastal cities as melting ice sheets and warming oceans raise sea levels to unprecedented heights. “Venice is the pride of all of Italy,” Brugnaro said in a statement, the Associated Press reported, as officials said the city was 70 percent submerged. “Venice is everyone’s heritage, unique in the world.” St. Mark’s Square, the city’s famous piazza, was closed as seagulls swarmed the knee-high water. The flood rose to over six feet in some areas. Italy declared a state of emergency and released 20 million euros to repair the extensive damage.

Cities in climate crisis . New Orleans: In the eye of the storm. Cities like Norilsk and Yakutsk are already seeing serious subsidence, and scientists expect their infrastructure to become at Cities in climate crisis . Jakarta: Sinking into the sea. Rising seas threaten coastal cities the world over, but

With every passing year of inaction, the emissions cuts needed to limit global warming to relatively safe levels grow steeper and steeper. Whether we label it blame or not, the question of who is responsible for the climate crisis is a necessary one. It will inevitably impact the solutions we propose to fix things.

So the next 10 years are crucial for any efforts to slow this trend.

If Earth warms more than 1.5 degrees, scientists think the world's ecosystems could start to collapse.

"The choices that we make today are going to have profound impacts," Levin said.

Even if nations stick to the goals they set under the Paris climate agreement, emissions will still likely be too high, according to the IPCC.

a group of people standing in front of a building: President Donald Trump departs after announcing his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in Washington D.C., June 1, 2017. President Donald Trump departs after announcing his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in Washington D.C., June 1, 2017.

Under the voluntary goals set in the Paris agreement, the world would still emit the equivalent of 52 to 58 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, according to the report. (This is measured as an "equivalent" in order to factor in other greenhouse gases, like methane, which is 84 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.)

So far, most countries are not on track anyway.

Regardless of what actions we take, there are a few changes scientists know we'll see in the next 10 years.

Satellite image shows meltwater ponding on the surface of the ice sheet in northwest Greenland near the sheet's edge on Monday, July 30, 2019. Satellite image shows meltwater ponding on the surface of the ice sheet in northwest Greenland near the sheet's edge on Monday, July 30, 2019.

That's because the world will keep getting warmer even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases immediately.

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In the worst case scenario, we might even the 1.5-degree temperature-rise mark by 2030.

The globe's ice caps will continue to melt, and crucial ice sheets like the one in Greenland might start down an irreversible path toward disappearing completely.

"Somewhere between 1.5 and 2 degrees, there's a tipping point after which it will no longer be possible to maintain the Greenland Ice Sheet," Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told Inside Climate News. "What we don't have a handle on is how quickly the Greenland Ice Sheet will be lost."

Greenland's ice is already approaching that tipping point, according to a study published in May. Whereas the melting that happened during warm cycles used to get balanced out when new ice formed during cool cycles, warm periods now cause significant meltdown and cool periods simply pause it.

That makes it difficult for the ice sheet to regenerate what it's losing.

That will lead to more sea-level rise — about 0.3 to 0.6 feet on average globally by 2030, according to the US' National Climate Assessment.

a group of people walking down a street next to water: People walk in the flooded street during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, November 15, 2019. This week saw the city's worst flooding in 50 years. People walk in the flooded street during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, November 15, 2019. This week saw the city's worst flooding in 50 years.

In addition to melting ice, rising ocean temperatures cause seas to rise because warm water takes up more volume. As the globe heats up, scientists expect that simple fact of physics to account for about 75% of future sea-level rise.

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The risk of high-tide flooding (which happens in the absence of storms or severe weather) is rapidly increasing for communities on the US Gulf and East Coasts.

a man riding on the back of a boat in the water: A motorbike navigates through floodwater caused by a seasonal king tide, October 17, 2016, in Hollywood, Florida. A motorbike navigates through floodwater caused by a seasonal king tide, October 17, 2016, in Hollywood, Florida.

In 2018, the US Northeast saw a median of one major sunny-day flood per year. By 2030, projections suggest the region will see a median of five such floods per year. By 2045, that number could grow to 25 floods.

The rising seawater won't be distributed evenly across the globe.

A Climate Central plug-in for Google Earth shows how New Orleans could disappear underwater by 2100. A Climate Central plug-in for Google Earth shows how New Orleans could disappear underwater by 2100.

Low-lying countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Seychelles are especially vulnerable. Rising oceans have already begun to threaten cities like Miami, New Orleans, Venice, Jakarta, and Lagos.

Some areas could see sea levels up to 6 feet higher by the end of the century.

Extra warmth and water means hurricanes will become slower and stronger. In the next decade, we're likely to see more cyclones like Hurricane Dorian, which sat over the Bahamas for nearly 24 hours.

a person riding a wave on a surfboard in the water: Hurricane Dorian ground to a halt over the island of Grand Bahama on September 2, 2019. Hurricane Dorian ground to a halt over the island of Grand Bahama on September 2, 2019. That's because hurricanes use warm water as fuel, so as Earth's oceans and air heat up, tropical storms get stronger, wetter, and slower.

Over the past 70 years or so, the speed of hurricanes and tropical storms has slowed about 10% on average, according to a 2018 study.

When storms are slower, their forceful winds, heavy rain, and surging tides have much more time to cause destruction. In the Bahamas, Dorian leveled entire towns.

a man standing on top of a sandy beach: Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home after destruction from Hurricane Dorian on Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, September 5, 2019. Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home after destruction from Hurricane Dorian on Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, September 5, 2019.

"The slower you go, that means more rain. That means more time that you're going to have those winds. That's a long period of time to have hurricane-force winds," National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said in a Facebook Live video as Dorian approached the Bahamas.

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A study published earlier this month found that the frequency of the most damaging hurricanes has increased 330% century-over-century.

To make matters worse, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. The peak rain rates of storms have increased by 30% over the past 60 years.

a group of people sitting in the snow: People evacuated their Houston homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. People evacuated their Houston homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.

That means up to 4 inches of water per hour. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was a prime example of this: After it made landfall, Harvey weakened to a tropical storm then stalled for days, dumping unprecedented amounts of rain on the Houston area. Scientist Tom Di Liberto described it as the "storm that refused to leave."

Hurricanes are likely to intensify more rapidly as well.

A woman seeks cover from wind, blowing sand, and rain whipped up by Hurricane Dorian as she walks in Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 2, 2019. A woman seeks cover from wind, blowing sand, and rain whipped up by Hurricane Dorian as she walks in Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 2, 2019.

"It's pretty well understood that if the water is warmer and it's causing more moist air to come up, you have the potential of a storm to grow quickly and intensely," Brian Haus, a researcher who simulates hurricanes at the University of Miami, previously told Business Insider.

Overall, extreme weather is expected grow more common and intense.

a close up of a map: In June 2019, France faced its worst heat wave since 2003. IThe heat map looked like a screaming skull. In June 2019, France faced its worst heat wave since 2003. IThe heat map looked like a screaming skull.

"Certain types of extreme events in the US have already become more frequent and intense and long-lasting," Levin said. "There's no reason to think that we're not going to start to see an amplification of what we've been seeing."

The World Health Organisation (WHO) projects that, overall, climate change will kill an additional 241,000 people per year by 2030.

The WHO expects that heat-related illnesses will be a major culprit, killing up to 121,464 additional people by 2030.

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In the coming years, experts expect to see "day zeros" — the term for the moment when a city's taps run dry.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Residents gather to fill empty containers with water from a municipal tanker in Chennai, India, as the city faces a 'day zero' water crisis, June 25, 2019. Residents gather to fill empty containers with water from a municipal tanker in Chennai, India, as the city faces a 'day zero' water crisis, June 25, 2019.

In January 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, got dangerously close to this reality: The government announced the city was three months from day zero. Residents successfully limited their water use enough to make it to the next rainy season, however.

The IPCC projects severe reductions in water resources for 8% of the global population from 2021 to 2040.

Dry vegetation in hot regions lights up easily, which means more frequent, bigger wildfires.

a man that is on fire: Firefighter Joe Zurilgen passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg, California, on October 27, 2019. Firefighter Joe Zurilgen passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg, California, on October 27, 2019.

"Climate change, with rising temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns, is amplifying the risk of wildfires and prolonging the season," the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said in a July release.

A 2016 study found that climate change nearly doubled the amount of forest that burned in the western US between 1984 and 2015, adding over 10 billion additional acres of burned area. In California in particular, the annual area burned in summer wildfires increased fivefold from 1972 to 2018.

We're also likely to see more wildfires in the Arctic, which is warming almost twice as fast as the global average. That means Arctic sea ice is also disappearing.

a close up of a rock: Satellites detected the infrared signal of a wildfire near Sisimiut, Greenland on July 10, 2019. Satellites detected the infrared signal of a wildfire near Sisimiut, Greenland on July 10, 2019. Rapid warming means that crucial sea ice is melting, which accelerates warming even more.

"You take what was a reflective surface, the white ice, and you expose darker oceans underneath it," Levin said. "That can lead to a much greater absorption of solar radiation, and knock-on warming impacts as well as change of weather patterns."

The Amazon rainforest is in trouble as well, largely because farmers and loggers are cutting it down so rapidly.

a steam train on a track with smoke coming out of it: An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it gets cleared by loggers and farmers, August 23, 2019. An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it gets cleared by loggers and farmers, August 23, 2019.

A 2008 study projected that humans would clear away 31% of the Amazon by 2030. Another 24% would be damaged by drought or logging, the study found.

People have already cut down 20% of the Amazon. If another 20% disappears, that could trigger a feedback loop known as a "dieback," in which the forest could dry out and become a savannah.

"The risk of transforming the Amazon to a savannah-like state — it could have a tremendous impact for our ability worldwide to get a handle on the climate-change problem," Levin said.

a field with a mountain in the background: A September 15, 2009 photo shows a deforested area of the Amazon rainforest near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para. A September 15, 2009 photo shows a deforested area of the Amazon rainforest near Novo Progresso in Brazil's northern state of Para.

That's because the Amazon stores up to 140 billion tons of carbon dioxide - the equivalent of 14 decades' worth of human emissions. Releasing that would accelerate global warming.

"You have a vital carbon sink no longer acting as a carbon sink, but instead acting as a carbon source," Levin added.

Other crucial ecosystems face collapse in the next decade as well. At present rates, it's expected that 60% of all coral reefs will be highly or critically threatened by 2030.

a close up of a coral: Bleached coral in Tahiti, French Polynesia, late-May 2019. Bleached coral in Tahiti, French Polynesia, late-May 2019.

High ocean temperatures can cause coral to expel the algae living in its tissue and turn white, a process called coral bleaching.

It's an increasingly dire problem, given that oceans absorb 93% of the extra heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere.Recent research revealed that the seas are heating up 40% faster, on average, than the prior estimate.

The consequences of coral bleaching extend beyond the coral itself, since reefs house 25% of all marine life and provide the equivalent of $US375 billion in goods and services each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

About 55% of the world's oceans could suffer due to rising temperatures, acidification, decreasing oxygen, and other symptoms of climate change by 2030.

a turtle swimming in the water: A green turtle lies on a bed of corals off the Malaysian island of Sipadan in the Celebes Sea, December 7, 2008. A green turtle lies on a bed of corals off the Malaysian island of Sipadan in the Celebes Sea, December 7, 2008.

These largely irreversible changes will eventually force mass migrations of marine life, upend ocean ecosystems, and threaten human livelihoods that depend on the ocean, according to a 2017study. Many species that can't adapt could die out.

"Climate impacts are also going to exacerbate social inequality," Levin said.

A farm worker picks table grapes in Maricopa, California, United States, July 24, 2015, during the fourth year of a drought. A farm worker picks table grapes in Maricopa, California, United States, July 24, 2015, during the fourth year of a drought.

That's because people with fewer resources will be less able to avoid the worst impacts.

"That National Climate Assessment shows that residents, for example, in rural communities who often have less capacity to adapt, are going to be especially hard-hit given their dependence on agriculture," Levin explained.

She added: "You can think also of the scenario of the poor who live in cities who could be at greater exposure to heat stress if they lack air conditioning and heat waves increase in frequency and duration."

A 2015 report from the World Bank predicted that the climate crisis will push an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.

a group of people sitting at a table: People jostle while holding water pots as they collect water from a lorry in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 28, 2012. People jostle while holding water pots as they collect water from a lorry in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 28, 2012.

That's because global crop yields could fall by 5% by 2030 in the face of climate change, according to the report. That will make food more scarce and more expensive, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Ultimately, "nobody is free from the impacts of climate change," Mann said.

a group of clouds in the sky: The Woolsey Fire approaches homes on November 9, 2018 in Malibu, California. The Woolsey Fire approaches homes on November 9, 2018 in Malibu, California.

"If you're on the coast, you're treated by hurricanes and sea-level rise," he added. "If you're in the western US, more intense, faster-spreading wildfires, worse drought. And we're seeing unprecedented heat waves and flooding events throughout the US."

To avoid these devastating consequences, "we need annual emissions to be about half of what they are now by 2030," Levin said.

a sky filled with lots of smoke: Smoke rises from the chimneys of a power plant in Shanghai December 5, 2009. Smoke rises from the chimneys of a power plant in Shanghai December 5, 2009.

That means "we need to shift across the board in terms of policies, technologies, and behaviour," she added.

Scientists say the world has to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, especially transforming the way we travel and produce food.

a large white building with a tower in the background: A facility made by Climeworks AG to capture CO2 from the air, seen on the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland. A facility made by Climeworks AG to capture CO2 from the air, seen on the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland.

"That means we need politicians who are willing to act in our interest rather than on the part of vested interests," Mann said. "Voting in the 2020 election is probably the single-most important thing we can do to address climate change."

Levin and the IPCC both say that, since we're so far off the path towards quitting fossil fuels, the transition will also require technologies that suck carbon out of the atmosphere.

"It's definitely going to be a massive undertaking, but the risks are so large that we can't afford not to do it," Levin said.

In US, climate anxiety churns up psychological storm .
In the melting Arctic, communities are racing to maintain their way of life. Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said Americans can be broken into six categories based on their reaction to climate change, ranging from alarmed to dismissive. "The common wisdom is that only upper-middle-class, white, well-educated, latte-sipping liberals care about climate change. Turns out that's not true," Leiserowitz said.None of the six groups is majorly driven by one demographic, he said, with the exception of the "dismissives" -- where "well-educated conservative white men" reign.

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