IPCC Report Warns Dire Consequences
A comprehensive report presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was released last week South Korea presented a bleak future for our planet if climate change continues unchecked. The report is based on a summary of over 6000 scientific journal articles and written by 91 authors from 40 different countries. The IPCC which was formed in 1988 by the United Nations Environmental Program and World Meteorological Organization informs UN members on policy regarding climate change.
The report outlines that the consequences of a 1.5 degree Celsius rise in global temperature from pre-Industrial times (the oft-cited goal) will be far more damaging than earlier believed. In 2009, at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, leaders, policy makers and scientist agreed that limiting the global rise in temperatures to two degrees would be sufficient to address any catastrophic changes. In Paris, in 2015, this goal was revaluated to an aspiration of a 1.5 degree limit. This new report suggests that even a 1.5 degree increase could be catastrophic. The next round of talks will take place in Poland in December.
The report warns that Global warming will reach the 1.5°C limit between 2030 and 2052, if this rate continues and without major cuts in carbon dioxide (C02) emissions and from there could rapidly increase to two degrees. The damage will increase significantly if temperatures reached between 1.5 and two degrees above pre-industrial levels. At this stage, hundreds of millions of people could be exposed to “climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty” and lose their homes and livelihoods to inundation, violent environment catastrophes or desertification. As more people around the world compete for diminishing resources, there is bound to be more conflict and war. There will be significant health implications as well. For example, diseases such as Malaria and dengue which are already present in countries in South Africa will become more prominent. It is not only humans who will be at risk, as hundreds of birds and animals will lose their habitat and go extinct.
The report indicates that “human activity” has been the cause of an increase of 1.2 degree Celsius. Unprecedented global changes by policy makers, leaders and private enterprises is needed with the goal to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. This must be done primarily in the form of cutting carbon emissions and switching to renewable forms of energy. Climate change is an important part of what we need to address, however it is not the only one. Other pieces include toxic run offs from industrial production, indiscriminate abuse of natural resources and lack of clean drinking water.
With such a dire prediction the climate talks in Poland later this ear become all the more relevant. The politics surrounding globally-shared security concerns such as climate change has become more complicated with isolationism popping up around the world, most significantly demonstrated by the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. What is urgently needed now is an acceptance of this report (especially the risks), and a more robust effort by the global leaders and business to act on them. Yes, citizens do have a role in addressing climate change but a majority of the burden lies on business and governments.
Image Credit: CC by Climate Change/ Flickr.