Editorial: Crossing a threshold on global warming
A sobering new study published Oct. 9 in the journal Nature charts how hot our planet will get in the years ahead. The large-scale study out of the University of Hawaii predicts when the world’s cities and ecosystems will be subject to unprecedented warming — and find themselves in entirely new climates.
The report says that starting in about a decade, average temperatures in Kingston, Jamaica, will hit levels not yet seen and will not decline. Other places will join Kingston: Singapore in 2028. Mexico City in 2031. Cairo in 2036. Phoenix and Honolulu in 2043.
And the whole world in 2047, the report’s authors say, unless world governments act immediately to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If they do respond, irreversible temperature shifts could be delayed until 2069.
The research, guided by biological geographer Camilo Mora in Hawaii, finds that major change will arrive not some time in the future, but within a generation. A former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called Mora’s work both innovative and sobering.
This month, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey. D-Mass., and others discussed climate change research adopted by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources. The senator and his cohorts said failure to address climate change could cost Massachusetts $9 billion in gross domestic product and nearly 38,000 jobs between 2010 and 2050, and $22 billion and nearly 100,000 jobs in New England.
“Massachusetts is already feeling the impact of climate change,” Markey said. “Sea levels are rising, storms are becoming more severe, precipitation more erratic.”
No matter what governments do, the report suggests, global warming can only be slowed, not stopped. The finding is grim and the need for action against greenhouse gases remains clear.