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23 September 2014

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Thousands of you took part in the world’s largest climate experiment

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Is this inevitable?

“This experiment has confirmed the level of climate change that the climate research community has been talking about for 10-15 years. It’s encouraging because it raises our confidence level of the changes we’re predicting, which means there should be more incentive to do something about it. But it’s concerning because we know it’s genuinely happening and that we need to act.” Dr Nick Faull Oxford University climate scientist

Our experiment predicts the Earth’s future climate if greenhouse gas emissions continue increasing at current levels. What would happen if emissions are cut and levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere stabilise?

Depending on how quickly we act and how much action we take, the effects of climate change can seriously be reduced.

There’s no quick fix though. Any changes we make right now are unlikely to significantly affect the predicted climate for 2020. But we can make a difference to the climate for 2050 and beyond.

The graph below speculates what might happen to global temperature with different emission scenarios.

This graph shows global temperature change over the 21st century for several scenarios. The temperature change is calculated based on predicted greenhouse gas emissions for each scenario.

Speculative graphs based in changes in carbon emission behaviour

What are the different scenarios?

The scenarios are based on assumptions about how the world develops. The details of the scenarios are complicated, but factors they take into account include variations in economic growth, population, technology changes, industrialisation and globalisation.

“I think global warming’s becoming a major issue as time goes by. I think that if people don't start doing something about it, then it’s going to affect us and future generations.” Charlotte Climate change experiment participant

The scenarios that show a greater temperature change are consistent with the world continuing on its current path without major efforts to reduce emissions - the ‘business as usual’ scenarios.

None of these scenarios take into consideration major campaigns to specifically tackle climate change. Further action would help to bring emissions down and therefore reduce global temperature changes as well as other climate change impacts.


Find out what individuals can do to combat climate change
Explore what else can be done to combat climate change


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