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The Consequences of Delayed Action on Climate Change

Emissions of greenhouse gases must peak by 2015 to limit global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times and avoid dangerous and irreversible effects of climate change, according to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in November 2007. Postponing international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would likely lead to substantially more damage. Delaying the peak emissions date by just one decade (from 2015 to 2025) increases the temperature outcome by approximately 0.5 degrees Centigrade (0.9 Fahrenheit) by 2100. Delaying the peak date another decade (to 2035) increases it a further 0.5o C. This December 2008 article by former IPCC co-chair Martin Parry outlines likely global impacts by 2100 in water, ecosystems, food, coasts, health, and singular events from warming associated with varying amounts of emissions cuts.

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