2 degrees of warming would be pretty disastrous for our world. I’m going to explain why we should aim for 1.5.

Are you crazy? It’s freakin’ cold here. We need all the warming we can get.

No, that’s weather.

What?

You’re talking about weather. Two degrees of warming would be the average, worldwide, but individual places could see massive temperature increases. And there’s no guarantee it would stop at two degrees, either – there are entirely possible worse scenarios that would make the earth a vicious place to live.

That was a long article…

You didn’t read it, did you? Alright, TL;DR – on our current course we’re in for (more) deadly heatwaves, massive food shortages, droughts, toxic air, and dead oceans, not to mention all the economic and social stuff – war, crashing economies – that come with those.

Weeesh. So… pretty doomy and gloomy. But why all the stress over 1.5 instead of 2 degrees? What difference could half a degree of warming make?

A great deal. 2c of warming would very likely mean the end of coral reefs, less freshwater to drink, a big reduction in crops, and 10cm more sea level rise, for starters.

We should probably avoid most of those. But wait, didn’t the world fix global warming in Paris?

Not even close. Paris was a good first step, but it was non-binding – countries don’t have to follow the rules – as well as being pretty weak. And even then, most countries aren’t on track to meet their modest goals.

Balls. Did they at least agree on 1.5?

They agreed to keep temperatures below 2c, but said they would “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees”.

So no pinkie promise. Do we have any chance of keeping below 1.5c?

That depends on who you ask. Almost every scenario that talks about 1.5c is an ‘overshoot’ deal, where we go past 1.5 this century, then get our act together and drop below again. Also, most of these scenarios rely on the mighty BECCS, which is unproven.

Wait, didn’t we talk about BECCS before?

Good fourth-wall break. Yes, and it’s really dangerous to rely on things we haven’t got yet.

So, there’s no hope?

Well, there’s a new study out that says we have a good chance if we focus on the ‘low-hanging fruit’, things like efficiency, lifestyle changes (less meat and flying), increased renewables etc.

Hazaa! I don’t know why you’re so gloomy all the time.

Well, this study is impressive, but like every future prediction, it relies on so many real-world variables we can’t predict that-

Yada yada uncertainty. Can’t we end on a high note for once?

The world is a fine place, full of kittens and hot chocolate – something like that?

Something like that.