Who would've thought that a Big Four accounting firm, the CIA, and now The World Bank would be some of the loudest voices calling for action on global warming? Yet those unlikely alarm-ringers have rolled out reports over the last two weeks warning of temperatures spiking anywhere from 7.2° to 10.8° F (4° to 6° C) by the end of this century, coupled with military mayhem and intelligence confusion, if we don't get tough on climate change now.
Today, the World Bank released a report finding that despite governments' efforts to keep temperatures from rising more than 2° C in the next century, Earth is on track for something more on the order of a 4° C increase in average temperatures. Such a jump would exacerbate global poverty, trigger severe heat waves and drought, cause sea levels to rise by three feet, and ravage food supplies. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim doesn't hedge in his op-ed for The Guardian, writing, "The scenarios in the report are devastating ... I hope that the vision of a world that is 4° C warmer shocks us into action."
If that sounds like a doomsday scenario, then the report from earlier this month commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers might border on the apocalyptic. The accountancy firm grimly forecasts that Earth could warm a full 6° C by 2100, with governments not weaning themselves off of fossil fuels at anywhere near the rate needed to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. "Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation would still lead to emissions consistent with 6C of warming by the end of the century," said PwC partner Leo Johnson. "It's time to plan for a warmer world … We have passed a critical threshold." The CIA may just angered environmentalists with its closure of its Center on Climate Change and National Security, but it has also been responsible for some of the most frightening warnings about climate change. Just 10 days ago, the National Research Council released a report, funded in part by the CIA, which finds that governments and their militaries will soon be unequipped to handle weather-related disasters:
It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events—including single events, conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence in particular locations, and events affecting globally integrated systems that provide for human well-being—will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global system to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response.
These parties could've started calling for drastic measures earlier (a decade or two ago would've been ideal). But at least major players in business, international development, and government intelligence are finally coming around to the harsh realities of climate change. Their outlook may be pessimistic, but the fact that they have an outlook at all hopefully means they're doing something about it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.