2 degrees of global warming is much worse than 1.5 – this one infographic proves it

iStock / Mario_Hoppmann

Last year Donald Trump withdrew America from the Paris Agreement - the only country in the world to reject it. Since then, he has backtracked slightly, and said the US could 'conceivably' return to it.

With the future of one of the biggest carbon polluters in the world looking uncertain, we must ask ourselves what it is that the US is rejecting exactly.

The Paris Agreement aims to:

strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

CarbonBrief, a UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science has created an infographic to demonstrate just what the 0.5 degrees Celsius (C) difference could do to the world.

Using data from a study that compared the two temperature changes - the first of its kind - published in Earth System Dynamics, they make a compelling case.

Picture:Picture: CarbonBrief 

One of the most worrying elements of a 2C increase is that freshwater availability in the Mediterranean will be down 17 per cent – almost double the nine per cent with a 1.5C increase. Sea levels could also rise from 40cm at 1.5C Celsius to 50cm at 2C.

The study warns:

In addition to changes in fresh water availability as a consequence of changes in the hydrological cycle, saltwater intrusion resulting from rising sea levels or extreme coastal flooding has to be considered (Werner et al. 2013).

Although strongly dependent on local circumstances including regional water management and coastal protection, saltwater intrusion might present a substantial challenge in particular for lowlying coastal areas and small island states.

Crop yields will also be hit harder, with wheat and maize production estimated to fall by almost double at 2C compared to 1.5C.

In order to prevent this from happening, the world needs to act immediately in meeting the 1.5C mark.

Otherwise, there will be less crops and water, a quicker rate of coastal erosion and, in extreme cases, entire islands disappearing beneath the waves.

More: Show these 9 images to your nearest climate-change denier

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