The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year to hit a level not seen since the Pliocene era, more than three million years, the UN has warned.
'The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed' so said the the head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, urging what is required is a new sense of urgency.
The report comes amid growing concerns that nature’s ability to deal with CO2 is weakening. Recent studies show forest regions are being cleared and degraded so rapidly that they are now emitting more carbon than they absorb.
The rate at which we are raising temperatures leads us to a 3C increase in global temperatures, far above the 2C of the Paris climate agreement, so what will be the impact of a 3C rise?
We are currently fighting to keep the rise of temperature at 2C although that will herald annual heatwaves with extreme temperatures in the low 40s in Northern Europe, desertification of forests, oceans turning increasingly acidic and several metres of sea level rise as the Greenland ice sheet disappears.
If that is what is pencilled in, a 3C rise would see all of the above and glacier and snow-melt in the world's mountain chains depleting freshwater flows to downstream cities and agricultural land, droughts effecting global food production, slowing Gulf Stream altering weather patterns and higher sea level rise, much human habitation in southern Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and other sub-tropical areas rendered unviable due to excessive heat and drought forcing mass immigration.
The battle may have been lost, we are seeing climate change happening today but how awful it will get is down to us and if we have the appetite to make the required changes to limit just how worse it will get and today it is as bad as it has been for 3 million years.