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2 degrees Celsius: A critical number for climate

04 Dec 2015 Mehdi Safavi
In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. But what is the significance of these two degrees?! What exactly happens if we cross that threshold? Watch the video from CNN to find out.

And now here's a listening quiz for you. Watch the video again and answer the questions below:

1- Policymakers for the environment believe that
a) we must not cross the 2-degree threshold
b) the temperature rise can harm cliffs
c) this temperature is at odds with predictions

2- We cannot avoid the disaster…
a) of mass extinctions in the future
b) because aspects of global warming are worsening
c) unless we remain under 2 degrees Celsius

3- What are we emitting to the atmosphere?
a) coal
b) oxygen
c) carbon

4- According to experts…
a) in the year 1880, the was a sudden temperature rise
b) the surface of the earth has grown in temperature by 0.85°C
c) the Industrial Revolution is the only culprit for climate change

Read the transcript to check your answers:


Two degrees Celsius. It's probably the most important number you've never heard of. Environmental policy experts say that temperatures, two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 Fahrenheit, may be the edge of the cliff for climate change. If global average temperatures were more than that, we'll greatly up the odds of new and worsening climate. 

Stay below that mark and we may be able to avoid some of the worst aspects of global warming. Like super droughts. Mass extinctions and extreme sea level rise which will hit coastal cities. When we burn gas in our cars or coal in our power plants we're adding carbon to the atmosphere and warming the planet. 

Scientists say the earth's surface temperature has warmed 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880, the Industrial Revolution. If we want to slow climate change we're going to have to cut back and fast. If we don't, the world could hit two degrees Celsius in just a few decades. 

This simple little number raises a bunch of huge and complex questions. What exactly happens if we cross that threshold? Or even get close? And how can we prevent that from happening? Many experts say it's still possible for us to stop short of two degrees. To stay back from the cliff. But it's going to take a global effort. 

Answers: 1)  2) c 3) c 4) b