But will his warnings make world leaders take notice?

Year and Loathing

Climate change's terrible toll on the planet is already here, from flooding to wild fires — but how worse could it get?

Well, the United Nations' (UN) head climate expert says the human race has got two years tops to tamp down the worst effects of global warming or else, Reuters reports. It remains to be seen, of course, whether the world's governments will pay heed.

The UN's Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Simon Stiell made the stark warning on Wednesday at a public event in London.

"Who exactly has two years to save the world?" he asked. "The answer is every person on this planet."

"We still have a chance to make greenhouse gas emissions tumble, with a new generation of national climate plans. But we need these stronger plans, now," Stiell said.

The two years he touted is a definite acceleration, Reuters notes, because climate experts have typically been saying that the world needs to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 so worldwide temperatures don't rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Going above that threshold would mean deadlier storms, most researchers believe, and would mean hotter heat waves, more damage to agriculture, and other grim ills for the planet.

Green House

Unfortunately, energy-related CO2 emissions hit a new high last year.

Also last year, the UN issued a report that the planet is on pace to blow past the 1.5 degrees limit to 2.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 even if governments across the world follow through on current global warming mitigation plans. Needless to say, that's really bad.

"I urge governments to carefully study the findings of the report and ultimately understand what it means for them and the ambitious action they must take next," Stiell said at the time, as reported by NYT.

Is there any good news to be had right now?

Well, scientists have lately been exploring radical solutions, from carbon sequestration to the controversial technique of solar geoengineering, which basically involves spraying the atmosphere with particles in hopes of dimming the warming effects of our sun and hence keep global temperatures cooler.

But those are long shot solutions that would likely bring their own negative unintended consequences. At a certain point, though, we might not have much choice.

More on climate change: Exxon is Trying to Find the Guy Who Did Climate Change

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