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Don’t Worry, the Earth Is Not Locked into Ten Degrees of Warming

The internet is abuzz with a new climate study that seemed to deliver a bombshell conclusion: the amount of carbon humans have put into the atmosphere may have already committed the planet 3 to 7 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming.

Three to 7 degrees Celsius is a big amount of warming—an apocalyptically big amount. The Paris climate accord, adopted less than one year ago by nearly 200 nations, resolved to slash global carbon emissions so that we don’t exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming overall. If we’ve already blown that target, not only is humanity’s landmark climate agreement depressingly obsolete, coral reefs, low-lying island nations, and many of our planet’s coastal cities are doomed.

Here’s the good news: prominent experts are calling this a load of malarkey. “This is simply wrong,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told Gizmodo. “The actual committed warming is only 0.5 to perhaps 1 [degree Celsius]—and nothing in the study changes that.”