The Earth's climate has hit a dangerous milestone, with new research showing we’ve crossed the halfway point towards a global temperature rise of 2°C.
Figures from January to September this year are already 1.02°C above the average between 1850 and 1900, according to an announcement from the UK's Met Office this week.
If temperatures remain as predicted, 2015 will be the first year to breach this key threshold.
The world would then be half way towards a global temperature rise of 2°C, a threshold scientists say cannot be crossed if we are to avoid some of the most dangerous climate change ‘tipping points’ such as the irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet, the partial conversion of the Amazon rainforest to a savanna or grassland, and the large-scale emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane from thawing permafrost.
It’s clear that our climate is changing more rapidly and with larger and more damaging impacts than expected. The scientific case for urgent action could not be more clear. Australia’s current commitments are not enough to protect Australians from worsening extreme weather events nor do they represent a fair contribution to the worldwide effort to bring climate change under control.
For more on how the changing climate poses substantial and escalating risks for health, property, infrastructure, agriculture and natural ecosystems in Australia, read our report: Climate Change 2015: Growing Risks, Critical Choices.
Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr