This report is a follow-up on an earlier study that found Earth could be warmer by two degrees centigrade in the space of one generation, and by four degrees by the end of this century, if action is not taken to reduce carbon emissions. Today’s temperatures are 0.8 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
It looks grim because as early as now we are already seeing the impact on regions believed to be hardest hit by global warming, such as those in South Asia, South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Unless something is done to control the carbon emission, specifically in China, which is now the biggest user of fossil fuels, the Sub-Saharan Africa will continue having a significant reduction in crop yields, which will eventually threaten food security. Loss of savanna grasslands will cause havoc pastoral livelihoods. At least the U.S. now, which used to be a big burner of fossil fuel, is slowly replacing coal with gas produced from fracking or hydraulic fracturing of underground shale deposits.
In South Asia, the monsoon will become unpredictable as it is starting to be now, and the region could suffer more extreme droughts and floods. Water in major river basins such as the Indus and the Ganges will reduce further, impacting food security for some 63 million people. Coastal cities such as Kolkata and Mumbai and Bangladesh are “potential impact hotspots” threatened by floods due to rising river and sea levels.
Across South East Asia, rising sea levels, more intense and tropical cyclones/typhoons that are equally unpredictable these days, and loss of marine ecosystems will adversely impact rural livelihoods.
It is foreseen that by 2050, increased water temperatures will severely affect fish in the Java Sea in Indonesia as well as the Gulf of Thailand. In southern Philippines, maximum fish catch potential is predicted to decrease by 50 percent and that all coral reefs in the region are predicted to experience severe thermal stress.
What is ironic about the whole scenario is that the impact of global warming will fall hardest on the poor as they are the most vulnerable.
We are experiencing it now in our country, especially when there is heavy rainfall. It is worst when we are hit by typhoons. And to think that there are more typhoons coming before the year ends.
Present warming trends could roll back decades of development and exacerbate poverty.
The WB report calls for countries to take urgent action to build resilience through climate-smart agriculture, flood defenses, drought and heat resistant crops, improved ground water management, and coastal infrastructure.