Between the 30th of November and the 11th of December negotiators from 195 countries are gathering to come to an agreement to reduce carbon emissions in order to keep climate warming below the 2°C threshold.
For the study of past climates, scientists use so-called climate proxies (ice cores, sediment cores, coral and tree rings) which allow them to reconstruct climatic conditions that prevailed in the past. Reliable instrumental recording of the global temperature started around 1850, just after the start of the Industrial Revolution. Data from these sources show that the average surface temperature of the Earth has increased about 0.74°C during the last 100 years. In addition, recent results of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that based on the January-To-September period 2015 has been the hottest year so far. The immediate cause of the record-breaking warmth is a strong El Niño weather pattern but this new temperature record would not be occurring without the underlying trend caused by the emission of carbon-dioxide (CO2). Atmospheric CO2 is measured at several locations around the world and it is currently at 400ppm. Although, CO2 concentration have shown several cycles of variations since the appearance of Homo sapiens (180-280ppm), the current value is the highest ever measured.
Staying below the 2°C limit is critical, because with higher average temperatures it is expected that global hurricane intensity, global heat wave and coastal flooding events will increase, and marine life diversity (due to coral bleaching and ocean acidification) and global food supply (due to changes in precipitation patterns) will decrease.
In the wake of Europe’s refugee crisis it is important to highlight that in Syria between 2006 and 2011 60% of the arable land experienced the worst long-term drought in instrumental record. The drought escalated existing water and agricultural insecurity, displaced over 1.5 million people within the country and contributed to the ongoing civil war.
97% of the climate scientist agree that humans are causing climate change. Therefore, the outcome of the Paris Climate Summit is significant not only because existing climate agreements between countries are expiring but because humans have never lived in a post-2-degree world.