Explained: The 1.5 C climate benchmark

Elfatih Eltahir, co-director of the Jameel Observatory Climate Resilience Early Warning System (CREWSnet), weighs in on the conversation about rising global temperatures, extreme weather events and what can be done globally, regionally and individually to "keep 1.5 alive."

“We should not forget that this is a global average, and there are variations regionally and seasonally,” he says. “This year, we had extreme conditions around the world, even though we haven’t reached the 1.5 C threshold. So, even if we control the average at a global magnitude, we are going to see events that are extreme, because of climate change.”

“To get people to act, my hypothesis is, you need to reach them not just by convincing them to be good citizens and saying it’s good for the world to keep below 1.5 degrees, but showing how they individually will be impacted,” Elfatih adds.


The summer of 2023 has been a season of weather extremes.

In June, uncontrolled wildfires ripped through parts of Canada, sending smoke into the U.S. and setting off air quality alerts in dozens of downwind states. In July, the world set the hottest global temperature on record, which it held for three days in a row, then broke again on day four.

From July into August, unrelenting heat blanketed large parts of Europe, Asia, and the U.S., while India faced a torrential monsoon season, and heavy rains flooded regions in the northeastern U.S. And most recently, whipped up by high winds and dry vegetation, a historic wildfire tore through Maui, devastating an entire town.

MIT News