Experts claim that just a half-degree increase in the Earth's average temperature could already bring irreparable damage to the environment – ​​a fear widely fueled by acceleration of global warming.

According to the most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the situation is extremely worrying, even considering all the commitments signed by the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement.

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Image shows a polar bear standing on a block of ice adrift in the ocean.
With only half a degree of increase in the Earth's average temperature, ice can disappear from the seas in 10-year cycles, affecting several animal and plant species (Image: FloridaStock/Shutterstock)

According to the world organization, the Earth has already increased its average temperature by one degree since the 1,5th century. The countries that signed the Paris Agreement have promised to reduce their emissions, so that this increase does not – under any circumstances – exceed the XNUMXºC mark. The problem: we're way off target.

That's because, according to estimated analyses, in the best possible scenario, meaning all past environmental regulations being religiously obeyed, emissions reduced widely and generally – with no risk of seasonal resumption – and good luck, we would be able to stabilize the Earth's temperature at an increase of… 2,7°C.

According to specialists working for the UN, just the path between 1,5ºC (agreement's objective) and the 2ºC mark – that is, half a degree – would already be quite problematic: the first effect would be an arctic ocean completely ice-free once every 10 years.

Another effect would be on humanity: extreme heat waves would more than double, affecting from 14% (1,5°C increase) to 37% (2°C) of human beings. About 250 million people would face regular periods of drought.

In terms of climate, subtropical regions (such as Brazil) would have less and less rain, which would extend existing dry spells. Conversely, high-latitude regions north and south of the Equator would face heavy rains and storms more frequently, 1,5 times more likely, and up to 10 times more extreme. Think in hurricanes across the US: they would be increasingly common.

In predominantly dry regions, the volume of natural fires would increase exponentially, and in a world two degrees above pre-industrial levels, 10% of all agricultural land would become infertile: corn crops would lose up to 7% of their land. volume under these conditions.

The sea level would also change drastically: with 1,5ºC more, it would increase approximately 10 centimeters. Half a degree more – 2°C – would throw the sea half a meter upwards, rising two meters by the year 2300 – these numbers represent double the conclusion drawn by the UN itself in 2019.

In those numbers, around 240 million people would be affected, mostly in areas such as China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. Cities like Miami and New Orleans, positioned in coastal areas of high maritime movement in the US, would also suffer severe impacts, while New York and the center of the country could see the frequency of flooding increase.

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