Updated Jan 13, 2021

Global temperatures could stabilize in decades

New research from scientists indicates that if net-zero emissions were achieved that a climate disaster could be stopped.

For a long time, it has been assumed that any achievement of net-zero would take generations to see progress, but in more recent times scientists have discovered that warming may be more quickly reversed.

The race to zero emissions by 2050 by over 100 countries with many of them signed into law would be a good start to turning back some of the damage done.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University compared atmospheric CO2 content to a sink that was always filling but said that if the drain was partially open and you reduce the water entering, the water level will slowly drop. This new perspective looks at the large carbon absorption from oceans, wetlands and forests.

Michael Mann has said that if net-zero was achieved on a global scale, "surface temperatures stop warming and warming stabilizes within a couple of decades".

He also added that:

"What this really means is that our actions have a direct and immediate impact on surface warming. It grants us agency, which is part of why it is so important to communicate this current best scientific understanding."

A small increase in global average surface temperature occurring since the pre-industrial era (1880-1900) means a significant increase in accumulated heat.

A previous paper on "committed warming" also warned about the current trends, but if emissions are cut rapidly, temperature rises could be slowed and take centuries. This would leave more time for technologies to be developed and as said by Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A and M University "an extra degree in a few hundred years is far less damaging than a degree in a few decades. The timescale is important".

For all of this to be achieved, one thing seems to be agreed, the world must become net zero as soon as possible.