Oldspeak: ““Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change”
–Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The report was built on the work of more than 300 scientists drawing from 12,000 scholarly articles to produce the most comprehensive picture of climate risks to date. Pachauri said the report provided all that governments could need for coming up with a strategy for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting populations from climate change. The volume of scientific literature on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report in 2007, and the findings make an increasingly detailed picture of how climate change – in tandem with existing fault lines such as poverty and inequality – poses a much more direct threat to life and livelihoods…. This was reflected in the language. The summary mentioned the word “risk” more than 230 times, compared to just over 40 mentions seven years ago, according to a count by the Red Cross…The report found the strongest evidence of climate change in the thawing permafrost in the Arctic and in the destruction of coral reefs. It found many freshwater and marine species had shifted their geographical range due to climate change…But the report said climate change was growing more evident in human systems as well, where it posed a series of risks….Climate change was already beginning to affect crop yields, especially for wheat and maize, and the report says that yields could decline sharply towards the middle of the century…The scientists found climate change was a driver of violent conflicts and migration, and was exacerbating inequality, making it harder for people to claw their way out of poverty…Climate change was also a factor in the rise of mega-disasters. The report said climate change was driving recent heatwaves and droughts, and was a risk factor for wildfires….At the forefront of those risks was the potential for humanitarian crisis. The report catalogued some of the disasters that have been visited around the planet since 2000: killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in Australia, and deadly floods in Pakistan…“We are now in an era where climate change isn’t some kind of future hypothetical,” said the leading author of the report, Chris Field of Stanford University. “We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential.”
“Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…. the more time passes, the worse it gets. it’s only going to get worse, there is no viable mitigation strategy, there is no way to avoid the worst effects of anthropogenic global warming. industrial civilization will collapse as a result of its continued and ever-increasing destruction of the ecology… Scientists have been told to prepare for 4 to 6 degree temperature rise. Multiple irreversible non-linear feedback loops have been triggered and cannot be stopped and climate change is ACCELERATING. Changes will happen faster than lifeforms can adapt. Near term extinction is all but assured.” -OSJ
By Suzanna Goldenberg @ The U.K. Guardian:
A United Nations report raised the threat of climate change to a whole new level on Monday, warning of sweeping consequences to life and livelihood.
The report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters.
And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.
Monday’s report was the most sobering so far from the UN climate panel and, scientists said, the most definitive. The report – a three year joint effort by more than 300 scientists – grew to 2,600 pages and 32 volumes.
The volume of scientific literature on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report, and the findings make an increasingly detailed picture of how climate change – in tandem with existing fault lines such as poverty and inequality – poses a much more direct threat to life and livelihood.
This was reflected in the language. The summary mentioned the word “risk” more than 230 times, compared to just over 40 mentions seven years ago, according to a count by the Red Cross.
At the forefront of those risks was the potential for humanitarian crisis. The report catalogued some of the disasters that have been visited around the planet since 2000: killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in Australia, and deadly floods in Pakistan.
“We are now in an era where climate change isn’t some kind of future hypothetical,” said Chris Field, one of the two main authors of the report.
Those extreme weather events would take a disproportionate toll on poor, weak and elderly people. The scientists said governments did not have systems in place to protect those populations. “This would really be a severe challenge for some of the poorest communities and poorest countries in the world,” said Maggie Opondo, a geographer from the University of Nairobi and one of the authors.
The warning signs about climate change and extreme weather events have been accumulating over time. But this report struck out on relatively new ground by drawing a clear line connecting climate change to food scarcity, and conflict.
The report said climate change had already cut into the global food supply. Global crop yields were beginning to decline – especially for wheat – raising doubts as to whether production could keep up with population growth.
“It has now become evident in some parts of the world that the green revolution has reached a plateau,” Pachauri said.
The future looks even more grim. Under some scenarios, climate change could lead to dramatic drops in global wheat production as well as reductions in maize.
“Climate change is acting as a brake. We need yields to grow to meet growing demand, but already climate change is slowing those yields,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor and an author of the report.
Other food sources are also under threat. Fish catches in some areas of the tropics are projected to fall by between 40% and 60%, according to the report.
The report also connected climate change to rising food prices and political instability, for instance the riots in Asia and Africa after food price shocks in 2008.
“The impacts are already evident in many places in the world. It is not something that is [only] going to happen in the future,” said David Lobell, a professor at Stanford University’s centre for food security, who devised the models.
“Almost everywhere you see the warming effects have a negative affect on wheat and there is a similar story for corn as well. These are not yet enormous effects but they show clearly that the trends are big enough to be important,” Lobell said.
The report acknowledged that there were a few isolated areas where a longer growing season had been good for farming. But it played down the idea that there may be advantages to climate change as far as food production is concerned.
Overall, the report said, “Negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts.” Scientists and campaigners pointed to the finding as a defining feature of the report.
The report also warned for the first time that climate change, combined with poverty and economic shocks, could lead to war and drive people to leave their homes.
With the catalogue of risks, the scientists said they hoped to persuade governments and the public that it was past time to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to plan for sea walls and other infrastructure that offer some protection for climate change.
“The one message that comes out of this is the world has to adapt and the world has to mitigate,” said Pachauri.