Painfully slow hurricanes, deadly heat, and cities without water: What the climate crisis will look like in the next 10 years, according to experts
- In the last few years, we've seen record-breaking temperatures, intense hurricanes and wildfires, and unprecedented ice melt.
- All of these are predicted consequences of climate change and are expected to get worse in the coming years.
- Addressing this threat in the next 10 years is critical: Scientists say the world must slash its carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avoid catastrophic warming.
- Here's what we can expect in the next decade.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more.
We only have a decade to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
That's the warning the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out last year. But so far, nations are not slashing emissions enough to keep Earth's temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - the threshold established in the Paris climate agreement.
"What we know is that unabated climate change will really transform our world into something that is unrecognizable," Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute's climate program, told Business Insider.
That transformation has already begun. The last few years saw record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic and bizarre storms, and unprecedented ice melt. That's all likely to get worse by 2030.
Here's what we can expect in the next 10 years.
Scientists attribute the increasing frequency of record-breaking temperatures, unprecedented ice melt, and extreme weather shifts to greenhouse-gas emissions.
Last year, the IPCC warned that we only have until 2030 to act in order to avoid the worst consequences of severe climate change.
If Earth warms more than 1.5 degrees, scientists think the world's ecosystems could start to collapse.
Even if nations stick to the goals they set under the Paris climate agreement, emissions will still likely be too high, according to the IPCC.
Regardless of what actions we take, there are a few changes scientists know we'll see in the next 10 years.
In the worst case scenario, we might even the 1.5-degree temperature-rise mark by 2030.
The globe's ice caps will continue to melt, and crucial ice sheets like the one in Greenland might start down an irreversible path toward disappearing completely.
That will lead to more sea-level rise — about 0.3 to 0.6 feet on average globally by 2030, according to the US' National Climate Assessment.
The risk of high-tide flooding (which happens in the absence of storms or severe weather) is rapidly increasing for communities on the US Gulf and East Coasts.
The rising seawater won't be distributed evenly across the globe.
Extra warmth and water means hurricanes will become slower and stronger. In the next decade, we're likely to see more cyclones like Hurricane Dorian, which sat over the Bahamas for nearly 24 hours.
When storms are slower, their forceful winds, heavy rain, and surging tides have much more time to cause destruction. In the Bahamas, Dorian leveled entire towns.
To make matters worse, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. The peak rain rates of storms have increased by 30% over the past 60 years.
Hurricanes are likely to intensify more rapidly as well.
Overall, extreme weather is expected grow more common and intense.
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that, overall, climate change will kill an additional 241,000 people per year by 2030.
In the coming years, experts expect to see "day zeros" — the term for the moment when a city's taps run dry.
Dry vegetation in hot regions lights up easily, which means more frequent, bigger wildfires.
We're also likely to see more wildfires in the Arctic, which is warming almost twice as fast as the global average. That means Arctic sea ice is also disappearing.
The Amazon rainforest is in trouble as well, largely because farmers and loggers are cutting it down so rapidly.
"The risk of transforming the Amazon to a savannah-like state — it could have a tremendous impact for our ability worldwide to get a handle on the climate-change problem," Levin said.
Other crucial ecosystems face collapse in the next decade as well. At present rates, it's expected that 60% of all coral reefs will be highly or critically threatened by 2030.
About 55% of the world's oceans could suffer due to rising temperatures, acidification, decreasing oxygen, and other symptoms of climate change by 2030.
"Climate impacts are also going to exacerbate social inequality," Levin said.
A 2015 report from the World Bank predicted that the climate crisis will push an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
Ultimately, "nobody is free from the impacts of climate change," Mann said.
To avoid these devastating consequences, "we need annual emissions to be about half of what they are now by 2030," Levin said.
Scientists say the world has to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, especially transforming the way we travel and produce food.
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