In a new study published on Monday in the Nature scientific journal, adding to the lengthy and ever-growing list of potential consequences of global climate inaction, scientists warn that around a quarter of the Earth could end up in a permanent state of drought if the planet warms by two degrees Celsius by 2050.
“Our research predicts that aridification would emerge over about 20-30 percent of the world’s land surface by the time the global mean temperature change reaches 2ºC,” said Manoj Joshi, one of the study’s lead researchers.
Scientists have for years linked widespread and more intense droughts to human-caused climate change. The only way to avoid these irreversible conditions is to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, Joshi concluded.
“The world has already warmed by 1ºC,” added Dr. Su-Jong Jeong, a researcher from China’s Southern University of Science and Technology. “But reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere in order to keep global warming under 1.5ºC or 2ºC could reduce the likelihood of significant aridification emerging in many parts of the world,” including Central America, Southern Europe, Southern Africa, Southern Australia, and Southeast Asia—home to more than 20 percent of the world’s population.
Though the Paris climate accord has long been criticized by environmentalists and researchers as wholly inadequate for confronting the growing climate crisis already wreaking havoc across the globe, the agreement’s central objective is preventing average global temperatures from rising 2°C by the end of the century. Achieving that goal by taking “early action” would substantially “constrain” the spread of drought, the study concluded.
The most glaring, problematic hurdle, of course, is that the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon, the United States, under the shortsighted leadership of President Donald Trump, has withdrawn from the Paris accord and accelerated drastically in the opposite direction away from scientists’ urgent recommendations. During his first year in office, Trump has embarked at a relentless, rapid pace to dismantle even the most basic environmental protections established by the Obama administration and has shown little sign of slowing down.
Trump also appeared to indicate that he wouldn’t mind a perpetually warming planet last week, underscoring his blatant, wholesale misconception of “climate” and “global”, when he tweeted that the U.S. “could use a little bit of that good old global warming” to combat the exceptionally cold weather currently enshrouding the northeastern states.