Experts around the world have proven that if we pass 2ºC of warming, the effects of climate change will irreversible. If we cannot stop climate change before 2 degrees of warming, our planet will change dramatically. Sadly, we are already halfway there, as current global temperatures are 1ºC higher than pre-industrial levels. Even if we do manage to stop climate change before 2 degrees of warming, there will still be huge impacts on the environment. While stopping climate change at only 1.5 degrees of warming is a far-fetched goal, it is do-able, and it will greatly reduce the destruction of our planet.
While 1.5 degrees of warming will still do some horrible things to the ecosystems around the world, it will be much better than 2 degrees of warming. According to the World Resources Institute, everything from sea level rise to habitat loss to the level of permafrost will be much worse at 2 degrees of warming than at 1.5. The chart at the end explains some of these in more detail.
The number of climate refugees will also be much lower with less warming. Millions of people will be displaced because of sea-level rise, rising temperatures, food and water shortages, and many more climate change-caused crises. If we can stop the extra half a degree of warming, the number of refugees would drop drastically. This is where the 1.5 to stay alive movement comes into play. While many nations will lose lots of habitable land to climate change, some nations will cease to exist altogether. Island and atoll nations like the Marshall Islands, the Maldives, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Seychelles, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, and many more will simply be buried by water if we do not stop climate change at 1.5ºC. Whole cultures and identities will be lost as the refugees scatter across the world, trying to find a new home. The native flora and fauna on these islands, some only found in these places, will go extinct. It would be an absolute catastrophe. The 1.5 to stay alive movement lead by these small island nations really took hold at the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and they have been gaining traction ever since. These nations are the most affected by climate change even though they have almost no carbon footprint and they are not responsible for climate change.
While 1.5ºC of warming is a very hard goal to meet, we must try. We have the power to help these people, and we need to stick up for them. We must campaign harder, protest more, and hold our leaders accountable. We have to do everything we can to stop climate change from destroying everything we know. We must keep fighting.
This is Malé, the capital of the Maldives. With just a few feet of sea level rise, this whole island, like many others, will be submerged.
Photo credit: Lonely Planet
This is the chart I mentioned earlier: