Too hot to handle: life in a four-degree world
by Gabrille Kuiper,
The book Four Degrees or More? Australia in a hot world, edited by political scientist Peter Christoff, is a timely overview of what we know currently about both global and local predicted impacts of climate change.
As Christoff notes, ‘this four-degree world is one of almost unimaginable social, economic and ecological consequences and catastrophes’ but, given current international and Australian energy and climate policies, it is “an impending reality”. The book contains contributions by Australia’s leading scientists and economists, including Ross Garnaut, David Karoly and Will Steffen, setting out a four-degree future across the ecological, social and economic impacts, and the adaptation that will be required.
Previously, climate change dialogue has mainly focused on two degrees Celsius of global temperature rise, which had been identified as a key environmental “tipping point”. Scientific consensus is now that our business-as-usual trajectory will cause the global average temperature to rise by a global average of four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2070-2100.
Nonetheless, regional increases will range from four to sixteen degrees on land, with the Arctic continuing to heat up the most, as it has done to date.
One of the key insights from Four degrees or More? is that almost nothing about the consequences of climate change will be uniform.