'Magic numbers' are clouding the climate debate

Scientists and activists need better ways to link abstract data with everyday experience. A fixation on numbers alone could have unintended effects.

The world should not warm more than 2 deg C above the pre-industrial average; we have until 2030 to keep the rise in check. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Climate change has become an existential crisis of notable exactitude, its parameters mapped out by precise temperature rises, thresholds, deadlines and "tipping points" of no return.

The world should not warm more than 2 deg C above the pre-industrial average; we have until 2030 to keep the rise in check; Earth has already passed the lower temperature thresholds of five out of 16 tipping points, with potentially ruinous consequences for coral reefs, permafrost and polar ice.

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