“Mean global warming of 2 degrees, the target set by the international community, is projected to expose an additional 8 percent of humankind to new or increased water scarcity,” says Dieter Gerten, lead-author of one of the studies. “3.5 degrees – likely to occur if national emissions reductions remain at currently pledged levels – would affect 11 percent of the world population.”
If the globe warms 5 degrees Celsius, which PIK says it is on-target to do by the end of the century if “business-as-usual” continues, the number of people directly affected by new or increased water scarcity will reach well over 1 billion, a stunning 13 percent of the global human population.
“Our findings support the assertion that we are fundamentally destabilizing our natural systems,” says Wolfgang Lucht, one of the authors and co-chair of PIK’s Research Domain of Earth System Analysis. “[W]e are leaving the world as we know it.”
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