Rising Temperature (04:01)
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the eight hottest years have been in the past ten. Scientists predict that a two-degree-Celsius rise in average temperature could make the earth uninhabitable. One degree above the pre-industrial average is already melting the Arctic and causing fires across the Western United States.
The area of land burning in one year has expanded by nine times in 30 years, as fires in California, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico stretch across hundreds of thousands of acres. The Scan Eagle is a drone that helps firefighters identify size and range of fires. People take refuge in Los Angeles as fires burn in the San Gabriel Mountains and other areas.
Causes of Global Warming (03:26)
In 2017, the Earth's average temperature is one degree above the normal level. Gwynne Dyer explains that this triggers feedback loops that cannot be reversed. The widespread burning of coal, gas, and oil has led to a cloud of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is warming the planet.
Heat Waves and Water Shortage (06:57)
By 2050, many places will be uninhabitable due to heat. Heather Cooley explains that water is essential for many levels of energy production. Mark Lynas describes the extent to which humans depend on electricity and water, and the chaos that would ensue without them.
Flooding in 2017 (05:29)
Heavy rains in Louisiana caused extreme flooding in 2016. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold, and this changes the earth's water cycle. An architecture firm is designing floating buildings and communities in anticipation of sea-level rise.
Flooding in 2061 (05:07)
In the future, the Mississippi River may flood an entire region. Infrastructure is not designed to cope with flooding on this scale. Lynas explains that floods put clean drinking water at risk.
Disease Risks in 2017 (09:03)
Dr. Jay Lemery explains that flooding causes the contamination of water and living spaces, which leads to disease. Mosquitoes are carrying viruses to new locations as cold temperatures are no longer a threat; older viruses are also recurring. Nathan Myhrvold discusses a laser technology for identifying and killing female mosquitoes.
Melting Permafrost and Disease (07:02)
Northern areas that have been frozen since the last ice age are warming. Gwynne Dyer explains that the melting reveals dead animals from thousands of years ago, which rot and release old disease. As systems of electricity, transportation, and water break down, disease outbreaks will become insurmountable.
Climate scientists warn of the dangerous feedback loops that higher temperatures cause. Hurricane Katrina signaled the disastrous effects of warming that were to come. Heating of ocean surfaces creates energy that leads to storms; in 2086, storms will be twice as powerful, destroying ports.
Preventing Storms (04:48)
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy brought disaster to 24 states, including New York. Scientists are developing methods to reduce the power of hurricanes; Myhrvold argues that pushing warm surface water down with a pump can cool it.
In 2089, people will leave coastal cities. Melting glaciers will take pressure off land, allowing plates to move, causing more earthquakes. On major fault lines, Alaska will experiences even more earthquakes as glaciers melt.
Volcanoes and Cooling Technology (07:06)
In 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland lasted three weeks and sent ash across the world, cooling the earth's temperature. Scientists are researching ways to harness this benefit; a StratoShield could release particles into the atmosphere to partially block the sun's radiation. Terry Plank explains that as glaciers around Mt. Rainier melt, magma expands and moves into the crust.
Solomon Hsiang explains that crops improve with warming at first, and then begin to fail. Animal populations will become extinct due to harsh conditions and ecosystem disruption.
Sea Level Rise (05:22)
The rate of melting ice in the Arctic is accelerating, warmed by the ocean and atmosphere. When the ice of Greenland melts, the ocean will rise over 20 feet, flooding many areas; when the Antarctica ice sheet melts, the United States will be covered. Bozeman, Montana might be the last outpost for life in the U.S.
Causes and Effects of Warming (04:45)
The average temperature is one degree above normal levels, and is expected to rise quickly, setting off a disastrous chain of events. Natural disasters, heat, disease, and sea level rise will make earth uninhabitable. Scientists argue that people need to take action to reduce warming now, before it is too late.
Credits: Two Degrees: The Point Of No Return (00:34)
Credits: Two Degrees: The Point Of No Return
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