CO2 Can Directly Impact Extreme Weather, Research SuggestsChelsea Harvey1. Global efforts to tackle climate change rest on a common goal: to keep the planet’s temperatures fromrising beyond dangerous thresholds. But what if the gases that come from cars and power plants are harmingthe planet themselves, even without the warming they cause?2. Rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may have direct effects on the climate system. In otherwords, even if global temperatures stay locked in at a certain point, higher CO2 concentrations couldcontinue to affect the planet. As a result, some experts are calling for putting a certain limit on carbondioxide emissions, in addition to the global temperature targets of 2 degrees Celsius outlined in the Parisclimate accord. According to a study published by Nature Climate Change, rising CO2 levels may cause anincrease in extreme weather and climate events, regardless of what happens with average global.temperatures (Baker et al., 2018).3. In a study, the researchers investigated what would happen to the climate system under a range ofpossible carbon dioxide levels, assuming the average global temperature remained steady. They chose the1.5-degree target-the world’s most ambitious goal-as a reference point. The scientists ran a series ofmodel simulations using a range of CO2 concentrations consistent with 1.5 degrees of warming. The effect onextreme climate events was striking. Even though average global temperatures stayed the same, higher CO2concentrations caused a significant increase in extreme heat and precipitation events in certain regionsaround the world. Scientists have found that even if the average global temperature remains more or lessconstant, it causes changes in circulation, changes in wind patterns, which are the drivers of the extremeweather conditions.4. Previous studies also suggested that carbon emissions may directly affect the climate beyond just raisingaverage global temperatures. Scientists found that carbon dioxide levels alter precipitation and atmosphericcirculation patterns independently of average warming (Bony et al., 2013). In addition, it is not just theweather affected by carbon dioxide levels. In fact, one of the biggest concerns about rising CO2 is itscontribution to ocean acidification, which is harmful to marine ecosystems.REEVALUATING GLOBAL GOALS5. The 1.5- and 2-degree temperature targets are currently the centerpiece of international climatemitigation efforts-the ultimate goal that world leaders are striving to meet under the Paris climateagreement. However, these targets may not encompass all the risks associated with climate change andwhat’s more, they may not be promoting the level of global climate action originally hoped for. Atemperature target is only useful if policymakers know how to achieve it. As a result, numerous studies inthe last decade have attempted to determine the amount of carbon the world can emit without exceedingcertain temperatures. This value would inform policymakers about how quickly they need to reducegreenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. Therefore, the issue should be tackled in different ways.
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