The Spooky Reality of Climate Change: A Worst-Case Scenario

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Our future on Earth as we know it is at stake, with emphasis on, “as we know it.”

We won’t beat around the bush, your bottom lines will mean very little, your interest rates will be far less interesting, and your marketing strategies will reach no one if the effects of climate change are not curtailed.

So, in the spirit of the spooky season this October, we thought we’d paint a scary little picture of what the world may look like without a significant societal shift.

Inspired by content from Sir David Attenborough, the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations, and even one well-constructed article from The Guardian, WolfPeak decided to contribute to a rich tapestry of information on our future at various levels of carbon emission intensity.

We may be a humble, homegrown strategic advisor for all things environmental, but we know a thing or two about the global implications of anthropogenic climate change.

So, without further ado… boo!

A Quick Temperature Check

For those who haven’t quite heard the news, the global community of environmental scientists have agreed that efforts must be vastly improved to limit rising global temperatures. This was most recently confirmed in the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report.

The consensus is that average global temperatures should not exceed more than 1.5°C above those from 1850-1900. Exceeding this figure would lead to irreversible effects on our planet, as will be detailed below.

As of 2022, the World Meteorological Organization reported that this figure had reached +1.15°C and declared a 66% likelihood that it would exceed +1.5°C between 2023-2027. So, where to from here?

While keeping things below +1.5°C is the goal, there are feasible scenarios where life can go on at +2.0°C, but it’s not a world anyone wants to live in (don’t get us started on +3.0°C…)

To imagine life as the world heats up over the next few paragraphs, consider the metaphorical “frog in the pot.” While comfortable at first as the water warms up, it will soon be too late for us to jump out and save ourselves. We’ll be cooked…so to speak.

The World Below +1.5°C

We wouldn’t dwell on this one too long, as it’s almost out of reach. A world where we don’t exceed more than 1.5°C above 1850-1990 levels is one not dissimilar to 2023. There are frequent floods and fires causing damage to fragile communities, while it’s largely manageable for first-world societies.

Of course, developing countries are already feeling the brunt of climate change as worsening natural disasters push communities from their homes and threaten food sources. On top of this, infrastructure in developing countries is not as resilient to natural disasters as in developed countries and takes far more time to rebuild.

To sprinkle some positivity into this scenario, a world below +1.5°C will be much easier to recover from. Emissions reduction technologies continue to develop and will naturally work faster if there’s less mess to clean up.

To avoid any overshoot of this +1.5°C goal, the IPCC has outlined an ideal level of emissions reductions. You the reader will almost certainly have heard these goals before, and you will almost certainly hear them again.

To stay below +1.5°C, global anthropogenic (“man-made”) carbon emissions must decline by 45% from 2010 to 2030, before reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
As businesses, we can contribute to these achievements through simple actions like recycling, using renewable energy, and sourcing materials domestically rather than through more carbon-intensive shipping methods.

The World at +1.5°C

In a world where we land bang on 1.5°C above those benchmarks, our global society will be forced to adapt to a host of environmental changes.

For this depiction, we turn to The Guardian, whose article describes the different changes at each level of warming.

At +1.5°C, previously “once-a-decade” heat waves will occur 4.1 times more often. “At 1.5C, about 14% of the world’s population will be hit by severe heat waves once every five years,” the article states. And there is a high chance of this happening before 2030.

At 1.5°C, previously “once-a-decade heavy precipitation events” will occur 1.5 times more often. This will involve more than 10% more rainfall, and many unprepared communities will be unable to weather the storm.

At 1.5°C, previously “once-a-decade crop drought events” will occur twice as often, destabilising food sources for developing countries and drastically raising the cost of food in developed ones.

And that’s all at +1.5°C. We must emphasise that while these depictions can be frightening, they should serve to inspire us to act. Curtailing climate change before global warming surpasses 1.5°C is a group effort requiring businesses, governments and individuals to act – and act with urgency.

The World at +2.0°C

As if we didn’t need any more encouragement to reduce our impact on the environment, here’s a quick rundown of what the world would look like at 2.0°C over pre-industrial levels: Those heat waves would occur 5.6 times as often. The floods? 1.7 times as often, at 14% more rainfall. Crop droughts would occur 2.4 times as often. Any more than this and a third of the world’s food production will be put at risk by 2100.

But Enough Negativity

Okay, we’ve scared you enough. In the spirit of the spooky season, there’s no trick without a treat. So, here’s what you can do to help!

WolfPeak has worked with projects in infrastructure, transport, land management, wildlife care and much more, giving us the confidence to mitigate whatever environmental impact you might have.

Whether you need a carbon-neutral build, an environmental impact assessment, or some carbon calculations, there’s sure to be a way for your project to help fight the green fight while benefiting the economy.

In Sir David Attenborough’s documentary, A Life on Our Planet (go watch it!), the renowned environmentalist details the events of his life spent admiring, assessing, protecting, and educating people about the natural environment.

After recounting his 95 trips around the Sun and the many changes he has witnessed, he delivers a heartfelt plea to the audience in the form of three ways to make positive change.

They are a shift to renewable energy, reducing our meat intake, and raising the global standard of living (i.e.. reducing poverty, improving healthcare, and overall equality).

For most businesses, only renewable energy will be relevant to operations, while the latter two relate to our personal choices. And while Meat Loaf told us that “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” in this case, one out of three isn’t too bad either.

If more businesses take advantage of renewable energy, it will have a significant impact on society’s attitudes towards fossil fuels and climate change in general.

According to Canstar Blue, the site estimates that small-to-medium-sized office buildings will require roughly 30-100kW of solar capacity. The volume of carbon emissions saved by this installation will depend on your current carbon footprint and how much power you draw from your solar panels.

If you’d like to measure the environmental benefit of a commercial solar installation for your business, get in touch with WolfPeak, and we’ll account for all your carbon.

If this article has shocked you into action – good! – give us a call and join us in the recovery from climate change. Your business and the environment will thank you for it.

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