Population Health

November 8, 2022

Expanding emissions decreases timeline of inevitable increase in global temperatures

Aerial view of emissions from an industrial complexIn order to limit greenhouse gas emissions to continue the gradual decline of emissions rates, many countries joined the Paris Agreement, which limits warming to 2 degrees Celsius at most. Researchers from the University of Washington sought to determine the extent to which past emissions guarantee a certain degree of warming by expanding their focus to include specific emissions such as methane and aerosols in addition to carbon dioxide.

The researchers created a “best-case scenario” model by studying what would happen to the Earth’s temperature if all emissions were ceased for the next 60 years. Previous research in this area looked primarily at carbon dioxide and determined that there would be little to no warming after ceasing emissions. Including shorter-lived greenhouse gases in this new study allowed the researchers to conclude that a temporary increase in temperature would occur for 1-2 decades after stopping emissions.

These new findings emphasize the importance of implementing methods of decreasing carbon emissions rapidly due to their discovery of the fluctuation period. Although a certain level of warming is inevitable, implementing actions and policies that seek to reduce emissions are imperative in the near future to tackle this rising challenge.

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