Worst-case scenario is ‘misleading,’ experts say

In its 2019 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency paints a bleak picture for cutting emissions quickly enough and by a large enough amount to meet the goal of keeping global warming below 2° C.

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In its 2019 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency paints a bleak picture for cutting emissions quickly enough and by a large enough amount to meet the goal of keeping global warming below 2° C.
  • The worst-case scenario predicts the globe will warm by 9 degrees by the end of the century.
  • “The high-emissions … scenario is increasingly unlikely in a world of falling clean energy prices.”
  • But this doesn’t mean that human-caused climate change isn’t going to cause big problems.

Scientific studies that use the worst-case, business-as-usual scenario for future levels of climate change are “misleading,” experts claim.

“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome – more-realistic baselines make for better policy,” wrote climate scientists Zeke Hausfather and Glen Peters in a commentary in the British journal Nature that was published on Wednesday. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the worst-case scenario predicts the globe will warm by 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century. This is “a dystopian future that is fossil-fuel intensive and excludes any climate mitigation policies,” the authors said.

“The high-emissions … scenario – with its 500 percent increase in coal use by 2100 – is increasingly unlikely in a world of falling clean energy prices,” tweeted Hausfather, a University of California, Berkeley, climate scientist. 

Rather than being seen as something that only had a 3 percent chance of becoming reality, it became known as the “business-as-usual” scenario by climate scientists and has been used in more than 2,000 research papers in recent years, the BBC said.



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