Climate change is taking its toll on our planet. According to a new study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability by the international group of experts led by the University of Exeter in the UK and the University of Nanjing in China, with a temperature increase of 2.7 degrees from pre-industrial levels, two billion people will be forced to live outside the climatic zone in which the human species has been living for millennia.
Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter, explained: "The costs of global warming are often expressed in financial terms, but our study highlights the tremendous human cost of failing to address the climate emergency." According to the researchers, the situation could accelerate if the global average temperature rises by 1.2 degrees from pre-industrial levels.
For every 0.1 degree Celsius increase, about 140 million people will be forced to live in poor conditions by excessive heat. India would be the country with the highest number of people exposed, followed by Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali.
The country with the largest extension of territory exposed to the threat of heat would be Brazil, while a dizzying increase in the areas affected would be recorded in Australia.
About the climate crisis
An editorial of the journal Science published in 2019 notes that the position of scientists on the matter is clear: the climate crisis requires a social transformation of dimensions and speeds rarely achieved in the history of humanity; the latest social changes of this magnitude were triggered by the Great Depression and World War II.
At the time, this was possible thanks to an awareness of an existential threat as well as broad societal support. Today, society is once again facing a similar threat, but the growing wealth gap and opposing economic interests prevent it from implementing the necessary changes.
Solving the climate crisis therefore requires a strong commitment to equity and justice, for indigenous peoples and future generations, as well as for global change. Society can only solve the climate crisis and avoid catastrophic climate change by working together to bridge all divides and making the climate crisis a top priority.
In this way, the 21st century can become one of renewed equity, justice and sustainability. The highest priority must be given to zeroing greenhouse gas emissions as a cause of climate change; more emphasis should also be placed on the synergies between climate protection and adaptation to global warming.