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Climate Crisis - Two Degrees Warmer

The difference two degrees celsius makes on the Earth and your home

2021 saw extreme weather events and climate disasters affecting the planet and joined the last six years as being the hottest ever on record. Wildfires and hurricanes erupted across the US and the UK faced widespread storms and power loss, while Moscow experienced record-breaking heatwaves.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by every country in the world, urges to reduce global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, preferably limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius.

Last year, the Climate Change Committee developed a strategy for a net-zero economy by 2050, with the Government urging homeowners to turn down the heating in our homes by one-degree Celsius to help achieve this goal.

PlumbNation wanted to reveal the effects of an increase in global temperatures by two degrees Celsius, compared to the impact of reducing the temperature of our homes by the same amount - and the difference is shocking. To help you reduce your energy use at home, we’re sharing some expert energy-saving tips.

Two Degrees Celsius: Changes to the Planet

Sea Levels Rising

Sea Levels Rising

The threat: Global sea levels have been rising throughout the 20th century, reaching an all-time high in 2020. It has been estimated that sea levels continue to rise by around one-eighth of an inch each year. Increases in global temperatures are accelerating the issue, causing water expansion and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets.

What happens if temperatures increase 1.5 degrees?:

  • If the Earth’s temperature increases by 1.5 degrees Celsius, sea levels could rise by 10 - 48 centimetres by the end of the century - that’s around twice as much as current levels.
  • Significant levels of flooding will affect 8 out of 10 of the world’s largest cities (including New York City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tōkyō, São Paulo, Dhaka) with East and South-East Asian cities being the most affected.
  • The global sea level could rise between 1.7 and 3.2 feet by 2100, as a conservative estimate.

What happens if temperatures increase 2 degrees:

  • Sea levels would rise by between 20-56 centimetres.
  • An increase in coastal flooding, beach erosion, salinization of water supplies would be seen.
  • The risks faced are estimated to be most detrimental in South and Southeast Asia, although sea-level rise will affect the whole planet to varying extents.
  • By 2100, sea levels could rise by a metre, displacing 10% of the world’s population.
  • Nations including the Maldives will be completely submerged underwater and the Indian subcontinent will struggle with flooding.

Oceans Warming

Oceans Warming

The threat: At present, the world’s oceans are absorbing a significant portion of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere, which results from the release of greenhouse gases. As the oceans warm, marine heatwaves are caused, and essential underwater ecosystems, such as coral reefs, are essentially being cooked alive.

What happens if temperatures increase 1.5 degrees:

  • There will be 16 times more marine heatwaves than today.
  • Ocean temperature increases and acidification of the water will cause coral reefs to decline by 70 to 90 percent. Interconnected ocean food webs rely on krill and finfish to transfer energy to higher animal species so the entire food chain would be impacted.
  • The oxygen levels of oceans will diminish, leading to the increased presence of “dead zones” - areas where the oxygen level of the water is so low that it won’t support most aquatic life.
  • The Arctic Ocean will be sea ice-free for one whole summer per century.

What happens if temperatures increase 2 degrees:

  • There will be 23 times more marine heatwaves than today.
  • Ocean temperature increases and acidification of the water will cause coral reefs to become practically non-existent - the livelihood of those half a billion people who depend on fishing as an income will be affected.
  • The Arctic Ocean will be sea ice-free for one whole summer per decade.
  • An irreversible loss will take place - mangrove trees which serve as natural barriers protecting our coastlines from storms and rising sea levels will be destroyed.

Increase in Heat Waves

Increase in Heat Waves

The threat: The past seven years have been the hottest recorded in history according to the World Meteorological Organization. Heatwaves can cause heat-related deaths, power shortages and a strain on water resources. According to the World Health Organization, over 166,000 people died from heatwaves between 1998-2017.

What happens if temperatures increase 1.5 degrees:

  • We will face around 19 extra days of extreme heat per year on average. Warm spells will last for approximately 17 days longer than normal.
  • Twice as many of the world’s largest cities, such as Lagos and Shanghai, could become heat stressed as today. This could expose around 350 million more people to deadly temperatures by 2050.
  • Category 4 and 5 tropical storms would become more common, happening yearly.
  • 14% of the Earth’s population would be exposed to at least one severe heatwave every five years. Europe will have a 47% chance of facing extreme heat during summer each year.

What happens if temperatures increase 2 degrees:

  • We will face around 29 extra days of extreme heat per year on average. Warm spells will last for approximately 35 days longer than normal.
  • 37% of the Earth’s population would be exposed to at least one severe heatwave every five years. Europe will have a 59% chance of facing extreme heat during summer each year.
  • The deadly heat waves that affected India and Pakistan in 2015 could happen every year.

Human Lives Threatened

Human Lives Threatened

The threat: Leading scientists have warned that climate change will affect people living in poverty more than others. Amplifying the gap between high and low-income communities, those with limited access to healthcare and resources face falling deeper into poverty.

What happens if temperatures increase 1.5 degrees:

  • Increased poverty and instability. The impact will vary by location, depending on access to air conditioning and the vulnerability of the population.
  • Vulnerable populations, some indigenous peoples and communities that depend on agriculture or marine resources for their livelihoods will be at the highest risk.
  • The elderly, children, women and those affected by chronic diseases will be at high risk.

What happens if temperatures increase 2 degrees:

  • Increased deaths from diseases like malaria and dengue fever.
  • Reduced food security, predominantly affecting the African Sahel, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, the Amazon, and Western and Southern Africa.
  • Global maize crop yields will be about 5 percent lower.
  • Seven to 10 percent of livestock such as cattle, horses and sheep will be lost.
  • Within 85 years, one-third of the planet will be without fresh water.

Animals Facing Habitat Loss

Animals Facing Habitat Loss

The threat: Climate change is just as serious for animals as it is for humans. Species across the world are being wiped out as humans cause global temperatures to increase. The hotter it gets over the coming years, the more habitats will get destroyed, causing entire ecosystems to die out.

What happens if temperatures increase 1.5 degrees:

  • 6 percent of Earth’s most common insects, 8 percent of most plants and 4 percent of most vertebrates geographical range will decline by more than half.
  • Frozen permafrost soils will thaw over centuries, resulting in an irreversible loss of stored carbon being released into the atmosphere.
  • Forest fires and extreme weather events would destroy animal habitats.

What happens if temperatures increase 2 degrees:

  • Habitat loss for all species would double or triple if temperatures increased from 1.5 degrees to 2 degrees.
  • 18 percent of Earth’s most common insects, 16 percent of most plants and 8 percent of most vertebrates geographical range will decline by more than half.
  • A third of all life on earth will face extinction.
  • Up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest will be destroyed. Warmer soil temperatures will kill vegetation, releasing more carbon into the atmosphere.

Two Degrees Celsius: Changes to your Home

Two Degrees Celsius: Changes to your Home

What happens if you turn the heating down 1.5 degrees:

  • Wear warm socks and slippers around the house, especially if you have wood or laminate flooring.
  • Switch from t-shirts to jumpers in warmer weather and layer up to keep warm.
  • If you have a hot water tank, installing an insulating jacket costs around £15 and could save you up to £49 per year on heating bills.
  • Use plastic window films on any windows that get sunlight as a cheaper alternative to double glazing.
  • Drink warm drinks throughout the day to keep warm.
  • Turning your heating down by just one degree could save you around £80 per year.

What happens if you turn the heating down 2 degrees:

  • Switch curtains out for thicker material to stop heat loss through the windows of your home.
  • Move large furniture like sofas or cabinets away from radiators to stop them from absorbing heat.
  • Make a draught excluder out of old fabric and place it by your front and back door to seal gaps. Draught proofing your whole property could save you up to £35 a year.
  • Add a rug to your home if you have wooden or laminate flooring to help prevent heat loss through floors.

How to Keep Your House Warm and Save Money on Bills

Keep Your House Warm

It has been estimated that for most UK households, half of the monthly energy bill is spent on heating, and according to Ofgem, the average home spends £1,277 annually on heating and power. There are some simple changes you can make which will help you keep your house warm while saving on your heating bills.

Turn Down your Thermostat: The smaller the difference between the temperature outside and inside your home, the cheaper your overall heating bill will be. Turning your thermostat pack just one degree could save you up to £80 a year.

Move your Thermostat: To function correctly, a thermostat must be placed on an interior wall, away from sunlight, draught and windows. Make sure your thermostat is not blocked by furniture, as this affects the natural movement of warm and cold air in your home.

Use Energy Efficient Appliances: Switch out old light bulbs to energy saver bulbs, and replace dishwashers and washing machines with A+++ rated models. An A+++ washing machine uses around £65 less energy than an A+ one over the lifespan of the appliance. Using an A+++ fridge freezer saves around £320 in energy than an A+ appliance over its lifetime.

Turn off Standby Appliances: It is a good idea to switch off unused devices at the plug to save energy. Timer plugs can be programmed to turn off and smart plugs can be switched off from your phone. These small changes can save you around £30 per year.

Use a Smart Thermostat: These work by learning the duration of time to heat your home to your desired temperature, only warm the rooms you are using and can be controlled by your phone. A smart thermostat can save homeowners around £75 per year.

Install Double Glazing: Although costly, upgrading from single to double glazing could save you up to £110 per year.

Install Roof Insulation: Best installed by an expert, roof insulation helps to stop heat loss through the roof of your home and could save you £135 a year on energy bills if you live in a semi-detached house.

Methodology

Plumbnation wanted to find out the impact of global temperatures increasing by 1.5 and by 2 degrees celsius. Information on the effects of increased temperatures on the Earth was sourced from Nasa, Global Citizen, the World Economic Forum and Sky News.

Contrasting this, we demonstrated the impact of reducing the heating in your home by 1.5 and by 2 degrees celsius.